When I heard the self-titled debut EP of Those Dancing Days last year, it was pretty much love at first listen. Their cheerful pop mixed with soul had a fresh sound to it, and I couldn’t wait until they completed their first album. Now the wait is over, as In Our Space Hero Suits sees the light of day.

So, just what can you expect from these five Swedish high school girls? Quite a lot actually. Out of the five tracks on their EP, the best ones are included on the album: “Hitten” (which cheekily means “The Hit” in Swedish) and the band’s very own self-titled anthem. Also featured is the latest single, “Run Run”. While a good song, it’s not quite as enthralling as “Hitten” and I have to say this goes for several of the other songs on the album. But that doesn’t mean that it’s bad – far from it!

In Our Space Hero Suits is a solid intoxicating pop record, with TDD’s signature hammond organ thumping through each song and singer Linnea’s soulful vocals that go well beyond her mere 18 years of age. The tempo is up-beat and energetic from start to finish, even if some songs are more memorable than some. All in all it’s a sweet and colorful album with an exotic flavor to it, making one wonder if these girls don’t hail from some tropical island rather than dreary old Sweden.

Besides the already mentioned tracks, I highly recommend “Falling In Fall”, “Shuffle”, “Home Sweet Home” and “Kids”. But they’re all worth a listen. Or several.

~ “Hitten”, “Home Sweet Home” ~

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The Exploding Boy

November 28, 2008

First time I heard The Exploding Boy, it was a rather rough demo I stumbled upon on the internet. The song was called “Cold Things Start To Burn” and despite the not so great sound quality I immediately got attached to it. A polished version as well as a full-length album soon followed and now the band are working on their sophomore effort. Nicklas, one of the band members was kind enough to send me their latest single to share with you guys.

Taken their name after a B-side by The Cure, it’s no surprise that these Swedes draw heavily from the 70’s post-punk and 80’s alternative pop scene. Also no surprise is that many think they sound like a modern mixture of The Cure, Interpol and Joy Division. It has undoubtedly been a good combination though as success has come quickly for the band. Just five months after forming in 2006 they played their first gig and the self-titled debut was released in 2007 to critical praise.

By the sound of their latest single “40 Days”, The Exploding Boy are sticking to their dark and gritty sound formula. No exact date for their sophomore effort has yet been set, but a new single (“Intervention”) is planned for release early next year as well as a European tour during the spring.

~ “Cold Things Start To Burn”, “40 Days” ~

Max Justus

November 27, 2008

Max Justus has accomplished something I’ve long considered impossible – making Kanye West not only sound bearable but actually really good to my ears. His remix of “Street Lights” transforms the song from a rather badly sung half-ballad to a cool slow-jam club track.

I shouldn’t have expected any less though as Max Justus is also one of the few electronica artists who manage to hold my attention by mainly doing instrumentals. Usually I need vocals to fully enjoy a song, but Justus has a way to fill up the audio sensory experience to the max with his sharp synthesizers and funky hip hop beats. Just listen to “Altered Beast” from his latest effort Five Leaping Leopards and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Also make sure to pop over to his MySpace for a free download of the album Talking To Strangers.

~ “Street Lights” (Max Justus remix), “Altered Beast” ~

City Of Satellites

November 25, 2008

Australian label Hidden Shoal have revealed yet another stunning piece of work in the form of City Of Satellites‘ debut EP “The Spook”. Though very ethereal and dreamy, City of Satellites are also quite melodic which I find to be a nice change amongst the sometimes far too abstract post-rock available these days.

The opening track and single “Moon In The Sea” is the highlight but the two remaining songs, “Sleeping in Disgrace” and “The Spook” are just as gorgeous. Consisting of an eerie dreamscape of spooky synths, weeping guitars and singer Jarrod’s frail but beautiful voice, this is definitely worthy of your attention.

“The Spook” EP is available for purchase here where you also can preview all three tracks.

~ “Moon In The Sea” ~

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Christmas came early for me this year in the form of eas/Svart Bröllop. Though Sweden’s been blessed with several great new bands who sing in their native tongue lately (Hästpojken, Pascal for instance) my heart beat a little faster when I first heard Kärlek Gjord Av Hat, the debut album of eas/Svart Bröllop. Could the reign of Kent, Sweden’s probably only contemporary super group be – perhaps not over – but at least challenged?

Comparing them to Kent isn’t completely fair though. Firstly, eas/Svart Bröllop are more adventurous in their sound, mixing pop, punk, rock, electro and even reggae. Secondly they remind me more of the great Swedish bands of the 80’s – Imperiet, Ebba Grön – along with more internationally known bands as Depeche Mode and The Clash thanks to the rhythmic guitars and dark synthesisers. So yes, their sound is very retro but not with going overboard.

The first single of the album, “Ung och Döende” was released earlier this year and had the highest rotation on several radio stations. Hopefully the second single “Två” will make an even bigger splash.

eas/Svart Bröllop – “Två” (one of the songs of the album that most sounds like a hybrid between The Clash and The Smiths):

Needless to say, this album has nestled it’s way firmly into my heart. 2008 is nearing its end but I sincerely hope that 2009 will be the year for eas/Svart Bröllop as Kärlek Gjord Av Hat doesn’t have one single dud on it. “Stationer” and “(Pasamos Por La) Diagonal” are my current highlights but the whole album is a gem. The only thing I can think to complain about are the female vocals featured on a few tracks. They’re too weak and anonymous and don’t reach the effect they would if sung by someone with a fuller voice. Other than that, this is pretty damn close to perfection.

Order your copy here!

~ “Ung och Döende” ~

Translations:
Svart Bröllop = Black Wedding
Kärlek Gjord Av Hat = Love Made From Hate
Ung och Döende = Young and Dying
Två = Two

Happiness

November 24, 2008

Few things in life bring me as much happiness as music does. So fittingly I’ve stumbled upon a great new band called just that – Happiness.

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And don’t they look like a happy bunch!? Well, not overly but the name isn’t completely sarcastic either. Being a part of Stockholm’s growing krautrock scene, Happiness have a fun and experimental pop sound that brings the early 80s to mind. Just listen to the old-school synthesizers on the featured tracks and you’ll know what I mean – it was what won me over immediately, soon followed by the singer’s quirky voice.

The band recently released a split-EP together with Tar…Feathers (also highly recommended!) on a German label and performed as the opening act to Xiu Xiu in Stockholm. Their next gig will also take place in the capital city of Sweden, at Teater Scenario to be exact, on 20th November. So you 08:or better go and support them! You can also buy a copy of said EP at their shows or simply go here + here to place an order.

“Look At That Rabbit Go”, “Neighbourhood” ~

La Chansons

November 24, 2008

 
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La Chansons took form in 2004 when Greg and Carson began dating. Like in a modern fairytale, Greg asked Carson if she wanted to be in a band with him on one of those dates and they have been spreading their kitschy electro pop ever since.

Two albums have been made so far – Love Love Love All Day and the latest, Midnight Aerobics. Old aerobic movies in particular seem to be a inspiration for the duo, not only with song titles as “Workout Love” and “Leotard Stories” but also visually in Carson’s campy 80’s art and their videos:

Bonus fact: Recently turned electropopper Kyle Andrews sings background vocals on “Cinderella Tonight”.

~ “Cinderella Tonight”, “Workout Love” ~

Rae Spoon

November 24, 2008

Hailing from the Canadian prairies, Rae Spoon set out to tour the world in his early twenties. Back then his music was mostly country oriented but on his fourth album, the up-coming superioryouareinferior, Spoon has a gone towards a more advanced sound, blending the country with bluegrass, indie rock and experimental nuances.

As a young transgendered artist, Rae Spoon has found inspiration in the darker sides of being open about his identity, resulting in some of the most beautiful songs I’ve personally heard in a long time. He blends hope with fear, reassurance with despair, taking you on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

While his previous albums have only been released digitally, superioryouareinferior (out on October 7th) will also be available as a physical album. I highly suggest that you pick up a copy, regardless of its format. This is definitely one of the best albums of the year for me.

~ “Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down” ~

Hazy Lazy Sunday

November 23, 2008

I put together a little mixtape of some down-tempo songs I currently love for a lazy, relaxing Sunday. Hope you all like it!

Tracklisting
01. Me And The Horse I Rode In On – “Sunday”
02. Dancer Vs Politician – “Neuer Morgen, Neuer Tag”
03. Ingrid Ovala – “Back To Love”
04. Interpol – “Pioneer To The Falls” (Orchestral version)
05. Headless Heroes – “Nobody’s Baby Now”
06. The Postmarks – “Three Little Birds”
07. Proof Of Ghosts – “Wandering Stars”
08. Rae Spoon – “Bones In A Museum”
09. That Ghost – “A Song About A Bird I Know”
10. Pretty & Twisted – “Train Song (Edge Of Desperation)”

Download full mix HERE.

Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums have made an eclectic album to say the least. Once you think you’ve got their sound figured out, they make a u-turn and throw you almost completely off track. It’s an enjoyable ride though as “Heartcore” is an experimental flurry of styles and genres. There’s pop, blues, and folk just to name a few.

What really makes the album though is Mariam Wallentin’s unique voice and Andreas Werliin’s unconventional drumming. As they switch between styles, so does the mood of their main instruments. On the more upbeat, quirky songs Miriam’s voice is strong, deep and sometimes even downright funny which is accompanied by Andreas going full out on the percussion. During the softer moments though her voice is suddenly soft and fragile, and the drumming is barely a simple beat.

As much as I appreciate the experimental part of it all, I have to admit that some songs are bit too unstructured and therefor not as memorable as others. So if you’re expecting easy listening and catchy hooks I would advice you to stay clear of this album. Those who enjoy a bit of a challenge though will surely love it.

Stand-out tracks: “Pony”, “The Way Things Go”, “I Can’t Tell In His Eyes”, “Doubt/Hope” and “Window”.

~ “I Can’t Tell In His Eyes” ~