I'm a big fan of Swedish record label Labrador (home to Radio Dept., Suburban Kids with Biblical Names etc) and when they about 11 months ago revealed new signings The Sound of ArrowsI was very excited (we wrote about them here and here). Unfortunately I found TSOA's first release "Danger!" rather underwhelming. Now they're back with a new EP and the title song from it is a real corker! The verse sounds like Pet Shop Boys and they use a children choir (I think!) for the chorus - can it get any better? Anyway, listen below and order the EP here. M.A.G.I.C! If this would have been Sweden's entry to the Eurovision 2009 TSOA could have become the new Abba. Now we just need to get Jo Whiley to hear this song so she can turn them into superstars! Or should that be "now we just need their label to pay Jo Whiley a lot of money so she can play it"? I'm not sure how these radio promotion things work. A good song is a good song, right? If I was a radio plugger I'd call "M.A.G.I.C. a twee version of Justice's 'D.A.N.C.E.'", I'm sure that would get the job done.
Another Swedish piano girl? Well, yes, but she's great!
Last week I wrote about how Pet Shop Boys have influenced many new Swedish artists. Most of these artists are men (although there are exceptions, such as Cat5). To broadly generalize and make it easy for me, you could say that if PSB have had a great influence on the Swedish male artists, Regina Spektor has done the same for the women. Sweden have really warmed to Regina Spektor, I don't think she's as big anywhere as in Sweden (too bad it's such a small country). She's even headlining Sweden's most famous festival (Hultsfred) later this year. In the last few years I've heard plenty of Swedish female artist blatantly copying Spektor, and now when I hear a Swedish artist playing the piano doubts rise quickly. Thankfully Sweden's got its own piano queen now, in the shape of Frida Hyvönen. A new piano girl on the scene is Hanna Baummann, from Stockholm, who manages to mix great tunes with original lyrics. Below you can download her song "I picked a fight", but if I were you I'd go straight to her Myspace and check out all the songs on there, since most of them are worth your while. I think it's a fact that Regina Spektor and Frida Hyvönen have encouraged more girls to start playing the piano, and if artists such as Hanna Baummann is a result of this - I'm certainly not complaining (as long as they don't sound like Kate Nash).
They've been gone so long that I almost assumed Suburban Kids With Biblical Names had become history. Ok, they haven't been gone that long, but I'm such a big fan that it feels like they've been gone for a century. Their new EP "#4" is released on Wednesday 4 February and you can pre-order it here. They've released one of their songs for free (see below), and you can also listen to two more on their Myspace. I'm not exactly blown away by the songs at the moment, but then I'm quite tired and not really in the mood for listening to new SKWBN songs. I'm sure the songs are great, just let me have a good night's sleep before I listen to them properly. Hopefully their album will be released shortly, followed by some UK gigs. Ciao.
MC Tia is a 25 year old Swedish MC who raps in English. She's born in Stockholm, but currently she lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. Apparently she's been around since 1999 and kept really busy since then. Unfortunately I've never heard of her until now (ignorant me!). The reason I'm writing about her is because I really like her "Pimp your soul", it's got a really fresh beat that sounds a lot like that sunshine vibe that Jurassic 5 / Ugly Ducklin have got going. I guess people in general are not really into this kind of thing at the moment (Lady Gaga it's not), but for me this is a goddamn hit! Listen below and judge for yourself. This song deserves to be played in clubs, shopping malls, and in your ipod, it's the music equivalent of phototherapy.
It's incredible how much influence Pet Shop Boys have had on the Swedish music scene, especially in the last few years. The most notably sign of this have been a bunch of duos (most notably Le Sport, but also The Embassy, The Tough Alliance, Lo-Fi-Fnk, TIAC etc). Maybe 2009 will be see the rise of single person Pet Shop Boys influenced artists. Alex Aranis such an artist. He sounds a lot like Eurosport / Le Sport (ie much more pop than TTA), but despite not being too original I must say I really like one of the songs on his Myspace ("Respect my situation", download it below). It's really catchy (the other two songs are much weaker). There's hardly any info on his Myspace except that his real name is Alexander Petersson, he's from somewhere in South West Sweden and there are also some obvious influences listed. Here's hoping we'll hear more from Alex Aran in 2009.
Do you remember in the late 90s when everyone went nuts for French rap? Of course you do! I tried to get into MC Solaar but despite that song on the first Jazzmatazz album being great, I never managed to get through any of his albums without feeling a bit bored. I also borrowed a friend's copy of IAM's "Lécole du micro d'argent" and it sounded like Wu-Tang but whereas with Wu-Tang I understood most of the stuff they were rapping about, IAM could have been rapping about adjustable wrenches and make up as far as I knew, and the fact that I could listen to great hiphop where I understood the words didn't really do any favours for my French rap interest. I love hiphop, but just like with any kind of music, the lyrics are crazy important for me, hence me sticking to music with vocals, and vocals that are in English or Swedish. Sens is a Swedish rapper who raps in French (which is fine by me of course, each to their own). Obama's motto "Yes we can" has really inspired him and thus goes the chorus of Sen's song with the same name, and it ends with a sample of Obama giving a speech where he utters these words. Surely everyone must be fed up with the whole "Yes we can" thing by now!? I'm even fed up with people joking about it. The verse is really where it's at with this song, the "Yes we can" chorus and its accompanied la la la's is just a bit too cheesy. Interesting though with Swedish rap in French, I don't think I've ever heard it before.