El Perro Del Mar + Lykke Li (together!) to the UK in June
Good news for all British people with good taste in music! El PerroDel Mar and Lykke Li are coming to the UK in June to do some shows together. These gigs will be pretty special, with El Perro Del Mar’s warblings and Lykke Li’s utter charm it’s going to be a night to remember for days and days afterwards. No, seriously, I don't see any reason why these gigs won't be marvellous. I’m not sure why all these bands have started to play at the ICA (in London) though. I really dislike that venue, it’s so soulless. Pfff! These are the dates:
02 June - Night and Day, Manchester 03 June - Hi-Fi Club, Leeds 06 June – Prince Albert, Brighton 07 June – Stealth, Nottingham 08 June - King Tut’s, Glasgow 10 June - Jericho Tavern, Oxford 11 June – ICA, London (pfff!)
Listening to Afasi & Filthy while waiting for Weezy
While counting down the days until Lil Wayne drops “Tha Carter III” , I’m quenching my thirst for Southern-sounding hiphop with Swedish duo Afasi & Filthy. They’re from Uppsala (north of Stockholm), Afasi is the rapper and Filthy the producer and their debut album “Fläcken” came out earlier this month. They’ve been around for a while releasing singles, mixtapes, producing (last year Filthy produced the amazing “Vad e det för mode” by Ison & Fille), doing remixes, etc, although for some reason they haven’t done a “proper” album until now. “Fläcken” is quite nice, I like three quarters of it, and love one quarter of it. There are some too reggae sounding songs on it that I tend to skip, but Afasi’s got a good flow and the beats are better than average. “Jobb” and “Benen på ryggen” (with Looptroop Rocker’s Promoe doing a magnificent verse) are my favourite songs on the album. I think I might go back to them in the future but perhaps not to the whole album. Listen below! Oh yeah, they rap in Swedish, by the way.
Did you ever hear of Chandra? I bet you didn’t! I saw them live 4 years ago, and for a brief moment in Sweden lots of people were talking about them (I think the singer was called Martin Chandra). I exaggerate when I say “brief moment” and “lots”, it should really read “nano second” and “a little, little bit”. I just remember reading in a few places about how amazing they were, and they I saw them at the Emmaboda festival in 2004 (or something) and it was a quite decent gig. They sounded a bit like a mix between Bad Cash Quartet, TTA (maybe not that much)and Popsicle. Great stuff! They only released one EP, but I remember buying it at Emmaboda thinking “this will be the start of so much more!”. Now if you go into http://se.myspace.com/chandrase it says that they’ve got an album recorded and that they’re just waiting to release it. It also links to www.chandra.se as the official website. Chandra.se doesn’t work, and the last the time the "moderator" of Chandra’s myspace page was logged in on Myspace was 23rd May 2006. I can’t find any info at all about what happened to the band. Screw you google! They released an EP with two-three great songs on it, then they just went away. How odd! Listen to the EP below.
English indie label Stereo Test Kit records have signed Sweden’s The Social Services. They’re an ok band but their tweeness can sometimes be a bit grating, such as on the song “Hailstones” when the opening line is: “Eating dried mango in Notting Hill with a sister of mine”. When I heard it the first few times, I was a bit disturbed by the Jens Lekman first line on “Your arms around me” (“I was slicing up an avocado when you came up behind me”) but I don’t think I can get used to that dried mango line like I got used to Lekman's avocado. Brrrrrrrrr. The songs are a bit theatrical for my liking, and they can come across a bit smug (at times, they're even more annoying than Billy the Vision & the Dancers when they’re on their worst student-like behaviour). It’s just too quirky for its own good! Too quirky and too cute! It makes me sick! Eurgh! “Baltic sea” is quite charming though, with its criticism of a dark side of Sweden that you don’t hear about very often. Stockholm, especially, can be (just like Orup once famously sang) very, very cold (and that’s not in reference to the weather, although that applies too). Looks like The Social Services are coming to London in July. If you’re into quirky twee, or from Bahamas, that might just be your lucky day.
Do you remember Loney, dear? I remember seeing him do a great gig in the beginning of 2007 at Notting Hill Arts Club (it was my first gig of 2007 and one of the best of the year). I also remember a hype, good reviews and a Sub Pop deal. Not sure what happened after that. I also remember that I've always had problems properly getting into his albums, despite them being pretty solid. Anyway, he's supporting Andrew Bird (another artist I thought would be bigger than he is by now) at IndigO2 on Saturday. I haven't been to IndigO2 and I'm not planning to go there this Saturday either. You see, I'm not a fan of Bird, nor can I be bothered to go and see Loney, dear do "just" a support gig. Listen to the track below and try and figure out if all the fuss was justified. Ok, I just listened to it a few times myself, and I’m surprised how good it actually is! Maybe I didn’t listen to his album “Loney, noir” enough…
Saturday 26 April - Loney, Dear (supporting Andrew Bird) – IndigO2, London
Tickets! (Cass McCombs is also playing - talk about a critically acclaimed bill!)
The new Looptroop Rockers album is out today in Sweden. I haven’t really listened to it enough to give a fair review of it, but my least favourite track on it is a cover of Bon Jovi’s “Living on a prayer”. Better than the album track "Living on a prayer" is a remix featuring Allyawan, Adam Tensta and Lazee. Still can't stand that chorus though. Check it out below!
I prefer short albums/films/girls (obviously none not too short!!!)
Have you seen that Caesars have got a new album out and that it’s a bloody double CD? How many times in the history of mankind has a double CD ever been a good idea? Did no one learn anything from “Wu-Tang Forever”? Do you remember in the late 90’s when movies just seemed to get longer and longer? How long was “Titanic”? Four hours? Way too many terrible epics were shoved down the cinema goers’ sore throats. At least the people learned their lesson and now movies are down to a sensible length again (for a director to have my attention for more than 100 minutes, he better be really brilliant at his job, 80 minutes is a very good length for a movie in my book). Ok, “There will be blood” that came out earlier this year was a recent exception (still, P.T. Anderson’s film is 40 minutes shorter than “Titanic”), although I’m sure that it could have been cut down some (I know lots about film editing, you see). Caesars’ new album “Strawberry weed” is no “There will be blood”, nor a “Titanic” (it’s not a turd). There are 24 songs on it, and if you’re looking for 24 “Jerk it out” – please look elsewhere. The sheer amount of songs is off-putting in itself, just looking at the tracklist gives me a headache. The only double CD I’ve enjoyed in the last 5 years or so was last year’s “Da drought 3” by Lil’ Wayne. I’m a big fan of Caesars though, so my initial reaction to this was very positive, but now I can’t do anything but use the old cliché “this would have been so much better as a single disc CD”. For a garage band, they can be quite bad live, every time I’ve seen them the singer (Caesar) has always seemed so grumpy. Doesn’t seem like they’re touring outside Sweden anyway in the near future, so no grumpy Caesar for us. Check out one of the better tracks from “Strawberry weed” below.
On the b-side of The Tough Alliance’s new single “Neo violence” they’ve covered Swedish pop group Lucky Twice’s horrible “Lucky”. There are various ways you can approach doing a cover of a song. Lately due to Jo Whiley’s despicable “Live Lounge” there seems to be a penchant among bands to take a good pop song (ie “Push the button” by Sugababes or “With every heartbeat” by Robyn”) and do it in your own distinctive way. It seems like bands such as Kaiser Chiefs enjoy doing this, maybe because their own songs are so crap and they might just know deep down inside that no one will remember them in 5-10 years time. I’m not a snob, I enjoy a good pop song just as much as any kindergarten kid or single mother, but I don’t think “Lucky twice” is a good pop song, it’s an appalling song! Look and listen for yourself below, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I do like The Tough Alliance’s version though, they’ve made it sound just like another TTA song without being too ironic or clever (perhaps they love the original? Who cares!). Turning a rubbish original into a great song is quite impressive. Usually I find it interesting to hear a cover of an already golden track maximum twice, and then the listening experience is more novel than real. I’ve already started to forget about the dreadful original while listening to TTA’s song, which is of course – without sounding too soppy here – the best compliment you can give someone who covers a song, is it not?
Another Camden Crawl - another rubbish experience. I got to Camden around 8:00 pm, went to get my wristband, then headed off for some gigs! Oh, how very exciting! Thought I’d go and see thecocknbullkid first at a place on Parkway – massive queue! Headed over to Cuban Bar where Skepta was meant to play, only to found out he hadn’t turn up! Ho hum! Walked to Dingwalls where The Bookhouse Boys were performing – massive queue! So, instead of watching a gig I went to the Camden Tup where Pacific!where meant to perform in 45 minutes. I drank a couple of pints and read the paper I bought earlier. Naturally I wasn’t in the best of my when the band started playing. Oh yeah, the girl I was meant to go with couldn’t make it either because she was “sick” (hungover, I suspect) and then all my other friends went on the Friday, except for a colleague who couldn’t make it because she drank too much booze the night before (what's up with people?). Luckily Pacific! put on a marvellous show. If I was drunker and in a better mood, I might have enjoyed it way more, and perhaps I’d done a little jig. Now I just nodded my head, and swayed a bit side to side. The best songs were their best songs (this is usually the case with gigs, right?) – ie “Sunset Blvd”, “Hot lips”, “Number one” etc. I’m not too keen on their more instrumental tracks. I filmed them playing “Number one”, so enjoy that below. They weren't too animated while performing, but the singer (who doesn’t look a look like Vernon Kaye in real life) did a little guitar thing (watch the video!), and both of them were very good at tapping their feet. After the gig I realised it was 30 minutes until the next one (Slow club, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to get in to) so I decided to buy some Ben & Jerry’s and head home to watch some “Battlestar Galactica”. Go Kat! Boo Starbuck!
Exotic west coast melodies in a cold, wet and horrible Camden full of disgusting Red Stripe
Today I’m going to Camden Crawl to watch a band called Pacific! whose members hail from Gothenburg. I’m quite excited! Not about going to Camden Crawl though, it’s always quite messy, it's cold outside, and you only get to see about 3-4 bands per night. I might go and see Lo-Fi-Fnk also, but Lykke Li is playing at the same time as Pacific! so I’m going to have to give her the boot (think I've seen her enough in the last few months anyway). Pacific! came to my attention last year through some fantastic 12”s on Dolores records (Alf, Broder Daniel, Caesars, Håkan Hellström, I’m from Barcelona etc), and then I got their debut album earlier this year. It’s a good album, more than half of it is excellent, the other part (30-40%?) is ok although a bit dull sometimes. As an album though, it works very well. They’ve got that French sound that Phoenixmasters, some sort of modern electroBeach Boys kind of thing. I love Phoenix, so I’m not complaining. They’re playing at 9:15 pm in The Camden Tup (which is sort of on the other side of The Underworld), and I hope they can manage to give justice to their sweet melodies when they play live.
I just noticed that Montt Mardié(real name: David Pagmar) played in London yesterday! Yipes! He supported Lucky Soul (a poor man’s The Pipettes, if you ask me), for some reason, at London Astoria 2. I wish I’d know this earlier! I would have gone to check him out,then left (I’ve seen Lucky Soul before, once was enough. Brrr). Montt Mardié came to my attention a few years ago when I heard his amazing “Huckleberry Friend” (listen to it below). His debut album “Drama” was pretty good, but last year’s double CD (with the first CD having lots of strings on it, and the second consisting of collaborations with other artists, such as Jens Lekman, The Legends etc) was more ambitious than it was good. I bought it, listened to it about three times, then I got terribly bored. My interest in Mr. Pagmar re-ignited towards the end of last year when he released an amazing (not ironic!) cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” sung in Swedish (Owen wrote about it here). I haven’t seen him live yet though, so that would have pretty rad! Oh well, perhaps he’ll come back one day and he'll sing "Paraply" and I feel sad while sipping on a Guinness.
Peter Moren - Monto Water Rats, London, UK - 15 April 2008 - live review
Yesterday I went to see Peter Moren play a show at Monto Water Rats. Last week I heard his song “Social competence” (check it out here) and thought it was rather pleasant, so I decided to go and see him play live. Before I went to the gig I listened to his album a few times, but was quite disappointed since it’s a dull collection of songs. There are about two decent songs on it, and one of them is “Social competence” (the other one is “Reel to real” that you can listen to below), the rest is a snooze fest. The support act for the night was fellow Swede Tobias Fröberg. Man, he was a handful! His songs are very poor and monotonous, and his banter between songs got more and more bizarre throughout the night. He tried to be funny but he just reminded me of an unfunny version of Andy Kaufman’s Latka character. He looked quite ill too, pale and pasty, the whole performance was quite excruciating, like watching your weird uncle trying to tell a joke that just isn’t funny – for 45 minutes. Peter Moren was much better, but still not that great, his songs just don’t cut the mustard! At the end he decided to play a cover of a-ha’s “Take on me”, but only after he’d slagged off the lyrics. It was a horrible end to a dreadful night (musicwise, thankfully the beer tasted good, I like Water Rats as a venue and I was in good company). I filmed a bit of “Take on me” on my rubbish mobile phone camera (it’s very, very poor quality but still not as bad as the actual performance itself) before I decided to call it a night. Man, I hate going to shows when the bands suck!
It’s taken me a couple of weeks to really get into it, but now I’m addicted! It’s like a musical Soreen! Anyway, I’m of course talking about The Kid and their new single “Mayhem Troopers”. Did you get The Kid’s album “La Société Nouvelle” back in 2006? Being a Hybris junkie, I did buy it, but lo and behold – it’s not that great. “Mayhem troopers” almost makes me want to go back and listen to it again though, and perhaps discover something hidden that I couldn't find last time around. It’s unfortunately not a song written by The Kid, but a cover of a Cortex song. Cortex is Freddie Wadling’s old band (they're not famous). Freddie Wadling is an old Swedish legend/fart (depending on what side you're on) that I’ve never been into. He’s a singer (Blue for Two, Fläskvartetten and obviously Cortex), artist, actor etc. He’s serious as hell and got bad teeth! Anyhow, the original is not too bad, although I prefer The Kid’s poppier version, despite the lo-fi charm of Wadling’s (the old fart's) creation. It’s quite the anthem, I like to play it over and over again. You should to, and give the original a chance too, you can pretend it's some weird warbling old man in a basement doing a cover of The Kid's song.
The fantastic "Ride my wild heart" is the new Moto Boysingle. The video is a pretty spaced out affair, there are some F.W. Murnau vibes in there, and a big swan. I like it, it's very suitable for the song and the dreamlike visuals complement the music nicely. Man, I just love Moto Boy to bits! I wish that this was a "normal" single and not just an mp3 single, so that there would be a new b-side or something. I want more songs! I want three more albums! Four! Five! I lent his CD together with the new Vampire Weekend CD to a girl at work who was going to holiday, and today she came back and said she wasn't too keen on Vampire Weekend but she'd been listening to Moto Boy like crazy. Hooray! I love when you lend someone something (book, dvd, CD) and they end up liking it as much as you do. So often I lend people stuff that I cherish, and they give it back saying something like "Hmmmmm, it was OK". ARGH! Anyway, that's enough of my morning rant about lending stuff to people.
Don't forget Moto Boy's coming to London to play some shows next month to play some shows. Here are the dates.
It sounds pretty good, I like the sound of "They don't love you". Very difficult to live up to "Watch your step" though, which is one of my favourite Swedish singles ever. Lots of people seem to dismiss Juvelen as nothing but a Prince clone, but I dismiss those people as ... piss clowns! (take that, you fools)
I'm not really digging the songs, although I haven't found Lyxzén that relevant for quite some time. David Sandström has rather suprisingly been the ex-member out of Refused to create the best music after Refused threw in the towel.
Wednesday 21 May – Love is All – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
Friday 23 May – Moto Boy – Monto Water Rats
Saturday 24 May – Moto Boy – The Barfly
Sunday 25 May – Moto Boy – Monto Water Rats
Ok, three gigs with Moto Boy might be a bit much (I hope he'll be as amazing live as I imagine), maybe choose just two of them. Anyway, the Love is All gig will be fantastic, and so will Jens Lekman's. We know this for sure.
Camden Crawl and The Great Escape – just not good enough!
If you’re in the mood to combine a festival experience with seeing some great new Swedish bands, Camden Crawl in London (18 – 19 April) and The Great Escape in Brighton (15 – 17 May) are not exactly ideal. Two fantastic Swedish acts play Camden Crawl – Lykke Li and Pacific!, but the only Swedish band worth seeing at Camden Crawl – Envelopes – are not even 100% Swedish. I’m going to stay home and sulk!
At S.U.N. headquarters, we receive 1,200 emails and 20 letters per day* from people complaining how we only write about new Swedish music, and don’t give any attention to older songs. Since we’re a real crowd pleasing gang, we’ve decided to start give you a taste of some tracks that weren’t released in 2008. First out is an golden oldie from the swinging ‘60s. It’s a cover of Australian Patsy Ann Nobles’ “Good looking boy”. The original is ok, but the cover by Lena Conradsson is much better (and the vocals are not as annoying either). They’ve changed the lyrics also from “Oh, my good looking boy yada yada” to “I’ve never been kissed, about that I should keep quiet” etc (sung in Swedish), which together with a better production give the song that Phil Spector quality which can make the difference between super cheesy and super great. Enjoy.
The magnificent “Young folks” by Peter, Bjorn and John, is actually from their third album (not everyone knows that!). I didn’t like their two first albums and I thought “Writer’s block” was pretty average, thus I didn’t jump out of my shoes with joy when I heard that Peter Moren was doing a solo record. Now I’ve heard a song (“Social competence”, you can listen to it below) from his upcoming album, and my mind has slightly changed. “Social competence” is a pretty nice little track, with a chorus that reminds me of Wham’s “Freedom”. Moren’s coming to the UK for a few shows starting next week. Who knows, I might just go and check him out. These are the dates:
15 April – Monto Water Rats, London 16 April – The Junction, Cambridge 17 April – The Roundhouse, Manchester 28 April – Captains Rest, Glasgow
On 11 January, after hearing “Young love”, I wrote about Moto Boy’s upcoming album that I hoped it’d “be the first great album of 2008”. And guess what? My wish was fulfilled! It really is one of the best albums of this year. Buy it! It’s fantastic and worth every penny spent on it. It's a bit like Antony & the Johnsons or Rufus Wainwright, with lovely melodies and such a warmth throughout all the 11 songs that it will make you not want to listen to anything else until summer starts, when you can start to listen to happier tracks during the day and leave Moto Boy for all evenings and rainy days (guess that’ll be almost every day then, except when you go away on holiday in Costa Rica). Also, here are some great news – Moto Boy is coming to the UK for three shows in May! They’re unfortunately all London shows, but if you live near London I bet it’ll be worth the £10 you’ll spend on a train ticket to come and see him. I’ve never seen him live myself, but judging from the clips on youtube, it’s going to be amazing. I believe it’ll just be him and an electric guitar. That’ll do for me. Goddamn, I'm looking forward to these dates so much I feel like Cartman waiting for the Wii to be released. Don't forget to bring a hankie (or a towel).
Friday 23 May 2008 – Monto Water Rats, London Saturday 24 May 2008 – The Barfly, Camden, London Sunday 25 May 2008 – Monto Water Rats, London
Apparently, on the American release of Robyn’s latest album, they’ve added “Dream on” as a bonus track. I read an article in Billboard a few weeks ago and there was some record label guy talking about how it was a new song and not just some b-side. Hm, well, it’s not a b-side, but a track from Christian Falk’s album “People say” from 2006. Not a really a Robyn track then, just as “With every heartbeat” is a Kleerup track and not a Robyn track. “Dream on” also features Ola Salo, from the horrible The Ark. It’s a pretty good track though, you should give it a listen. I wonder if all this means that Robyn isn’t really writing new songs (too busy doing PR, touring and signing new record contracts, I bet) since there seems to be an urge lately to dig up any old tracks that she’s featured on and call it a Robyn track. If this wasn’t a blog about Swedish music, I’d post Prince’s “Sometimes it snows in April” here, but now you have to do with some Robyn instead (not exactly Prince, but she's still alright), so let’s give it a listen and dream on about how it is April and the amazing sunny spring weather is making our hearts beat faster giving us hope that the summer isn’t too far away.
One of the best albums released this year is by a band that consists mostly of Swedish members (ie not Razorlight or The Hoosiers – yuck!), hence me writing about them here. The band in question is Envelopes, and the record's called "Here comes the wind". You might have heard of them, some people liked their first album and there was a bit of a buzz that unfortunately didn't make them superstars. Now they've got a second album out and it's absolutely brilliant, I tell you! Fantastic! It's quirky, a bit different and maybe a bit unconventional, but there's still a pop sensibility to it (I wouldn’t like it if it was way too weird). Cute lo-fi feel to the whole thing too. Not only have they made an outright amazing album, they're also coming to the UK in May to show it all off. Here are the tour dates and a song from an album that is very likely to end up in my top 5 (Swedish and non-Swedish) album list of 2008.
10 May Proud Galleries, London 11 May Joshua Brookes, Manchester 12 May Cumberland Arms, Newcastle 13 May The Ark, Edinburgh 14 May Escobar, Wakefield 15 May The Great Escape, Brighton