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December 12, 2008

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Anna Ternheim & Friends

December 11, 2008

Anna Ternheim recently invited some of her fellow Swedish songsters to record a wonderful acapella version of “Summer Rain”, off her new album Leaving On a Mayday. Featured in the clip are Ane Brun, Nina Kinert, Ellekari Larsson from The Tiny and Johanna och Klara from First Aid Kit. It was filmed Christian Haag in Decibel Studios, Stockholm:

~ “Summer Rain” ~

My Moon My Mixtape

December 11, 2008

Leonard Tishkov’s Private Moon

I’ve always been fascinated by the moon. Not in the sense that I want to travel into to space and walk on it, but rather by its beauty and mythology. As I child I loved stories where the moon was a kind watcher that made sure we all slept safely while the sun rested, but also the moon that brought out the darker aspects in both humans and animals: werewolves, magic, prophecies – even hormonal rage! 

Added inspiration came when I found Leonard Tishkov’s beautiful series of photos dubbed Private Moon. It’s a “visual poem” which tells the tale about a moon that has descended from the sky and now lives in peaceful existence with a man. I just found that whole idea enthralling and the photographs alone are stunning.

Hence this mixtape, a tribute to the moon in its various forms:

City of Satellites – “Moon in The Sea”
The Magnetic Fields – “Sad Little Moon”
The Kid – “Bloodmoon”
Glasvegas – “Cruel Moon”
Monogold – “Snow On The Moon”
The Magnetic Fields – “Save A Secret For The Moon”
The Maybes? – “Full Moon”
Neko Case – “I Wish I Was The Moon”
They Might Be Giants – “Nightgown Of The Sullen Moon”
Concrete Blonde – “Mexican Moon”
The Magnetic Fields – “The Dreaming Moon”

~ Download ~

Maps Of Norway

December 10, 2008

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Maps of Norway are in fact not Norwegian but American, hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their moody mixture of indie pop, post-rock  and early UK 80s influences got its start in 2004 when formed by former Vespertine-members Jeff Ball (drums) and Eric Hanson (guitar). The band was later perfected when Rebecca Leigh joined and added her distinctive vocal antics to the mix, not to mention bass player Matt Helgeson.

Four years later Maps of Norway have finally completed their debut Die Off Songbird, an album filled with shrilling guitars and an atmosphere that brings The Chameleons and even Bauhaus to mind. Though a bit too drawn out at times, Die Off Songbird is still a must listen for anyone who likes dark new wave as well as good old post-rock. Rebecca Leigh’s vocals are bordering on hypnotic and could probably make even the most boring song sound exciting. 

~ “The Lights”, “The Runout” ~

Deers & Frostbites

December 9, 2008

Christmas is approaching and with it comes the often dreaded Christmas songs. Don’t’ get me wrong, I love this time of year but I’ve never been much for its music. Probably because the stores insist on playing the same old Christmas songs over and over, not to mention that horrible techno Christmas album my dad had on repeat one year. Thankfully there are alternatives, two of which I’m presenting here.

First we have a rather sad but sweet winter song by Twiggy Frostbite. This Swedish band have gained quite a following on MySpace thanks to their animated music video “Heroes”, depicting a a robot and a little girl. While I understand the videos popularity, I’m not really feeling the song. Singer Elin Lindfors has an interesting voice but it borders on annoying during the chorus. Their seasonal tune is however more to my liking as it suits her chilly vocals better:

~ “Lanterns and Stars” ~

The second song is actually related to Twiggy Frostbite as The Deer Tracks consists of their already mentioned singer Elin together with David Lehnberg. Their sound is quite similar to that of TF although perhaps a bit softer around the edges and with more electronic elements. The Christmas tune The Deer Tracks have put together sounds almost as a lullaby a times, with hushed vocals and a scattering piano that makes me think of falling snowflakes:

~ “Christmas Fire” ~

There’s a fine line to walk for me when it comes to any kind of country music. While I thoroughly enjoy bands like My Morning Jacket and Band Of Horses who blend a little Americana into their alternative sound, I find it difficult to take traditional country music very seriously. Yet The Grizzly Owls manage to walk this line even though their country influences are much stronger than what I’m used to.

I first stumbled upon this husband and wife duo last year when I heard the lovely song “What’s A Girl To Do”. Back then I didn’t really consider their sound all that country but that influence seem to have grown since the release of their debut album Night On My Bed. It makes sense though since their latest EP The People Have All Gone was much inspired by the movie The Last Picture Show, in which country legend Hand Williams’ songs can be heard. The Grizzly Owls wanted their music to be able to accompany his, as well as tie in with personal history of family photos hailing from the Korean war.

Since I haven’t seen The Last Picture Show I can’t really tell if The Grizzly Owls fulfill their intentions of matching its soundtrack. I am however sure that The People Have All Gone is very much enjoyable either way. Their somewhat dark Americana mixed with soft melodies, twangy sweet vocals and equally twangy guitars makes a gorgeous combination from start to finish.

~ “On A Paper Moon” ~

My Violaine Morning

December 8, 2008

Here’s a band I’ve been meaning to write about all year.

My Violaine Morning are truly a wonderful addition to the shoegaze and post-rock genres. They formed in 2004 and released their first EP Where’s My Place to Play in 2007 for free via Grotesque Records, which earned them listeners far outside their home country of Indonesia. With its swirling guitars, distorted sounds and sweeping vocals the five track EP touches on influences like Explosions In The Sky, Slowdive, The Cure and Cocteau Twins. In other words a goldmine for fans of any kind of dream pop.

Though originally a quartet, My Violaine Morning now consists of three members: Rony (guitar; vocals), Kiev (bass; vocals) and Risky (drums). The band is currently working on their first full-length album which hopefully will be completed in February-March of 2009, as well as preparing live shows in Bandung. For a taste of the up-coming material head over to the band’s MySpace where you can stream their latest single “Ceuraniouvle”.

~ “99 Milles”, “Morning Angels” ~

Kylie Remixed

December 7, 2008

A fellow blogger friend and I recently discussed the underrated album that is Kylie Minogue‘s 2007 X. We both feel that the wrong songs were chosen as singles (although we disagreed on “2 Hearts” – he likes it, I don’t) and that the album probably could have done much better if, say, “Like A Drug” or “Speakerphone” had been released as initial promotion.

I also remember Kylie saying that X was too rushed at therefor didn’t turn out as good as it could have. Though I agree that they seemed far too eager for Kylie to make a comeback after her battle with breast cancer (similar to Britney’s current situation with her new album and recent recovery) I don’t think X was bad at all. Sure there were some duds (“Nu-di-ty”, “All I See” for instance) but overall it was a much better album than Body Language (which frankly also had some poor choices of singles).

Thankfully it looks like is getting a second chance: the newly released Boombox is basically an extension of said album, and the X-singles are still receiving remix treatments (not counting Freemasons take on “The One” which was bit of a downgrade). One of the more recent ones is by NYC-producer Terror Dactel who has turned the sweet “In My Arms” into a proper electronic disco thumper. Although there’s not much point in dragging the promotion of X any further as we approach 2009, I hope this resurrects the album – and Kylie – somewhat.

~ “In My Arms” (Terror Dactel Remix) ~

The JEALOUS Sea

December 2, 2008

Yet another lovebird-duo has come to my attention, this time in the form of The JEALOUS Sea. Being the twee-nerd that I am (and still somewhat bitter about missing out on its glory days), I got very excited when stumbling upon this band. Their sound of jangly guitars, sweet pop melodies and cute boy-girl vocal combo really makes you think back to the twee institution that was Sarah Records.

Officially formed in the spring of 2006, this boyfriend/girlfriend collaboration actually got its start several years earlier when Ronardo “Ronnie” P. Recacho had some instrumental songs that he couldn’t find much outside interest for. After re-working some of the songs as well as writing new ones with lyrics he asked girlfriend Taylor B. Crawley if she was interested in working with him, and so the ball started rolling.

Combining their mutual love for indie pop and twee together with shoegaze, mod and 60’s soul- and french pop their collaboration quickly proved to be a good decision. So far The JEALOUS Sea have released songs on various indie labels such as Cloudberry and Series Two Records and appeared on several compilations. Still, it’s just the beginning as Ronnie and Taylor are currently working on old as well as new songs which hopefully will be available for our listening pleasure real soon.

~ “Past The Grey”, “All Over Town”, “The Games We Play” ~