Check it out and download a couple tunes while you're at it ("Thor" is a b-side from the forthcoming Do It! release; "Free Not Free" is the first single off said LP).
Do It! sounds like your poppiest effort yet to me. You seem to incorporate more digestible and straightforward pop hooks into your otherwise minimalist, gritty psych-pop/post-punk aesthetic ("Free Not Free," "Memories"). Were you deliberately trying to make something a little subtler and accessible for this album?
Yes definitely. We felt it was time to change. I love pop music so it was inspiring to make it more melodic and mellow. It also in a weird way makes the LP more extreme, to have those sharp cut-ups between melody and a raw sound.
I'm curious about the album artwork and visual component that you've applied to Do It! The cover illustration is more playful; you're now wearing Hawaiian T-shirts instead of Freemason getups -- any concept behind these alterations and developments?
It all went hand in hand with the music being brighter. There's more humor and yes, a playful piss-take side to Do It! and the artwork etc. I much prefer it, if that side is brought out.
This could be a completely bogus comparison, but listen to London's the Great Shakes and tell me you don't hear equal parts Deerhoof and the Jam/Paul Weller.
Hear it? That nimble, jumpy guitar that tails the vocals and implies a melody through spastic accenting and sonic punctuation ... sounds straight up like John Dietrich's but with a shimmer or British post-punk. And then Dan Foden -- the singer -- totally channels Paul Weller, anyway ...
Or something. Man, these guys are good. Melodramatic and theatrical with an element of Mod rock and Motown swing. Pair the Great Shakes up with other throwback groups in the U.K. right now like Vincent Vincent & the Villains (whom they've toured with), the Rumble Strips, and Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong. The below two tracks are the quartet's only recorded demos, but judging by the strength of them, we've only good things ahead with this band. Yeah ...
I vaguely understand why groups leave the dancier and lengthier stuff for their 12" releases -- it's the format, man! -- but really, why the hell can't these mixes wind up on LPs?
Since the vinyl of Simian Mobile Disco's (MySpace) "Sleep Deprivation" surfaced way back in the oh-seven, I've been choosing this cut (the longer, cooler, radder one) over the album's.
Dig it. I'm suffering from the title's malady.
Also, because I'm feeling itchy, grab the Japanese release of Alive 2007's bonus track, a mash-up of T. Bangalter's "Together," "One More Time," and plenty of other greatness. Again, why didn't this make it to the album?
Munk, notoriously dubbed "the German DFA" (which just isn't fair, people!), has a new album coming out on the spectacular Munich-based label, Gomma (which actually could be fairly equated to the European DFA; Gomma brought us Who Made Who, Headman, Box Codax, and, of course, Munk) called Cloudbuster. Huh? Bizarre title.
I'm guessing that most of you readers haven't heard much of Munk's stuff outside of the funky "Kick Out the Chairs" (which featured James Murphy and Nancy Whang), and that's fine, but you really ought to be exposed to more. Thankfully, this new LP is on the horizon, and it's bound to be a blast. We can't wait!
One of the songs that's to be found on the album is "Live Fast! Die Old!" ... and, assuming that the remix of the tune (to be found below) is an indication of how boss the original is ... man ... this'll rock.
Anyway, I'm jammin' out to this one, and sitting down isn't suiting me right now. Enjoy the song!
Junior Boys (MySpace) are busting back onto the scene in a slightly altered form in preparation of their forthcoming third long-player. They released "No Kind of Man," a slow and moody soulful R&B track and mixed the stellar Body Language Six for Get Physical Music, showing us that they mean business.
To further strengthen their reputation, they've contributed a remix to Sally Shapiro's (MySpace) Remix Romance Vol. 1. A mix of the phenomenal Italo disco slow jam "Jackie Jackie" cutely renamed "Jackie Junior." The new version maintains the original's pace, but adds that trademark throbbing Junior Boys synth bass line and sharp drum snaps (a la New Order), twisting the tune in a welcomely different manner.
Shapiro's got not one, but two remix albums out/coming out, and as we've said on these pages before, they're awesome and deserve your full attention. Lucky for us, we've a new freebie to sample before picking up the hard copies.
Can't wait to hear what Junior Boys've got in store, but, more importantly, you all can't wait to hear these two Shapiro remix records, right?
Paris' the Limes (MySpace) is comprised of Toy Fight, Orouni, Mina Tindle, John Hale and Brent Ballantyne. Maybe that's more resonant to our readers in France. BBBD only knows Orouni (a French folk favorite!), but surely the other members of the quasi-supergroup must be good ...
The group's MySpace page describes their stuff as "melodramatic pop music." Whenever I see that phrase, I think, "OH HO HO! How funny and ironic -- not." Who actually sincerely uses "melodramatic" to describe their music if they're not an emo outfit or self-respecting?
Oddly, in the case of the Limes, the terms seems ... apt. "Big Top Head" is especially "melodramatic", a swooping folk ballad that winds on for over six minutes. It's delicate and lo-fi in a sophisticated sort of way ... Grizzly Bear minus the tremendous reverb plus a bit of a French accent plus a hint of twee pop. Or something.
"City Lights" sounds like a bedroom cover of something by the Human League or -- better yet -- Eurythmics. (I kid you not -- put it on already! You're curious, admit it!)
"Left Hands" is just fun. It edges dangerously close to cheesy French pop-rock, but is redeemed by fun hand claps, a bouncy guitar riff, and a piano line that sounds a hell of a lot like "Heart and Soul." Man, these guys are fun! I love it! Listen listen listen! They'll be on Wes Anderson's next film soundtrack; they'll be in a Target or VS ad; they'll be in your heart and soul, no doubt.
Friendly Fire Recordings is a label with one hell of a track record. No duds. No slow periods. No boring releases. And certainly, the eclectic label can't be fingered as going along with any trends (I use "trend" in a negative manner here). Mind, this is the company that brough you both the sultry wall-of-sound shoegaze of Asobi Seksu and the hypnotic psych-pop of the Whitsundays. BBBD gives a big thumbs up to Friendly Fire.
The NYC-based label's latest offering is Camphor's (MySpace) debut LP, Drawn to Dust. What an immaculate album! Imagine a sublimely produced re-do of Beck's Sea Change. This is vibrant folk-rock that's truly understated by either of those two classifications joined by a hyphen. (It ain't "folk" and it's not straight-up "rock" -- think outside the box!)
The record has folk elements -- in terms of its use of vocals and rhythm guitar it drips of the genre -- but listen to "The Sweetest Tooth" three, four times (I'm now on my seventh spin), and your ear will be delighted to turn up much, much more beneath the surface. Sparse drumming that sensually intertwines with an old-timey piano ditty; a Wurlitzer-esque line accents the layered and soft-spoken singing; a climax coming in around the 1:45 mark -- "Give me something for the pain!/A little something for it" -- only to descend back into a refreshed verse (with a hint of violin).
Camphor's debut is expertly constructed and arranged, and -- more importantly -- catchy and hooking. Put this one on and you'll be hard pressed to find a good reason to skip any song, ignore a few here and there, or pull one in particular as a favorite.
I've done my best to confirm this, but if I'm wrong, don't kill me. I just completed the first non-Japanese interview with Tokyo's Escalator Records, the label that brought us all Yukari Fresh, Miniflex, Cubismo Grafico, most recently the astounding young talent that is Avalon, and many, many more.
On top of that, Escalator has a spectacular Harajuku record store, cafe, and weekly events night that's literally one of the most fun times you can find in Tokyo. They've been the bold voice of an outspoken and ignored generation that's been unable to fight its way to any sort of real cultural acceptance in its homeland. To outsiders, it's easy to say that Escalator and its followers are just obsessed with foreign musics, but look beneath the surface and you'll find a world of creativity, unique ingenuity, and individualism that's unparalleled even in the States, a land of tremendous musical output.
I'm curious about these new compilations called We Were Escalator Records. They're very ominous! Do they mean anything or is simply just a new series of mixes?
So, in my own mind, Escalator ended around 2006, when I started Every Conversation. I may be killed by the Japanese fans, so I can't say that in Japan [laughs], but I have no interest in the Japanese music scene, and never want to do business [in it].
If we keep on doing stuff like we did in those old Escalator days, maybe we'll get a smash hit and maybe we will make the living... but can you imagine that? [I'd be] so bored, fed up, nauseous.
Now Escalator has Cubismo Grafico's label KIT, so I don't concern myself at all with Escalator. Maybe only Avalon. They'll become better in a while, and maybe you'll want to put them in your magazine. But Escalator's old works are still highly acclaimed, so I did We Were Escalator Records, [out of] responsibly. Oh yes it maybe it's ominous. Quite literally. It's an anthology.
Editor's Note: A Japanese compilation album is called an "omnibus" CD.
And now a few Escalator tunes from the archives ... enjoy!
A new marketing tactic has been implemented by the music industry! Instead of releasing just one single with a b-side or two tacked on, release approximately three vinyl 7"s (each with slightly differing tracklists) along with digital versions and CD editions! That's like ... five times the normal amount of singles so it probably means five times the normal net income, right? Right?
I doubt it. If anything, when bands like the Teenagers (and now the Mystery Jets) release an overwhelming number of the same a-side, I scratch my head and wonder if it's worth anyone's time (mine, collectors', or die-hard fans'). Buying three singles approximates the cost of one LP, so why would one bother grabbing up two- or three-song discs when he or she could just get a superior album?
Is my thinking totally skewed here? Do you agree? Disagree? Hmm ...
Anyway, if you've not guessed (or heard) yet, the new Erol Alkan-produced Mystery Jets (MySpace) record, Twenty One, is very, very good. As you would expect from the renowned electronic/dance/techno DJ and producer, it's super clean and crisp, layering tracks in a precise and distinguishable way. It's also pretty darn dance-y ... a little more than I'd expected. Super hooky. No flatliners on this one. No dead space.
Anyway. The below song, "Girl Shaped Gun," is one of the b-sides to be found on the new Young Love single. This particular tune can be found only on the "standard edition" of the vinyl release ("Metal Soul" is the b-side on the "gatefold version"; "Uber Liebe Geld (Flakes Dictaphone Demo)" is on the CD release). You can buy all three releases as a bundle here. Not sure why you'd ever buy any of the songs digitally, so we'll skip those links for now ...
Busy day, short post. Seal Beach (no website/MySpace!?) is no longer just a place in California but also a band that records stoner experimental ambient tracks in abandoned houses and grandmothers' basements.
Sort of interesting stuff if not a little rough at this point. Give 'em time; let 'em find a few more forgotten barns to inhabit and record in and they'll hit that sweet spot. Until then ... check out their just-out EP, Space Faces In the Star Jungle of Fury.
One of my best Swedish buddies, Tony Cederteg (buy his books!) revealed the true extent of his talents to me the other day. I'd assumed him to be a phenomenal publisher and photographer, and wasn't prepared to hear that he's also a pretty decent drummer and Internet national T.V. show host, not to mention expert DJ and hilarious writer.
He's been drumming on and off in a Swedish pop trio called Owl for a while now, but don't think it's his band. The group is officially comprised of Anna, Milou, and Fan Fan (cool names!) -- Tony just helps out when they need a drummer on the cheap.
Owl's music is a sort of bedroom breed of soul or R&B. It's really emotional, really expressive, and certainly not glossed up with fancy production or diluted with overbearing walls of sound and noise. Instead, Owl makes clean and clear music ... you can hear each element distinctly: from the gritty guitar hooks to the saucy tamborine; the cutesy yet strong vocals to the throbbing, minimalist bass line. They're not attempting to bite off more than they can handle, and that's obvious (these are simple songs!), but they've obviously labored over the arrangements and production of each and every tune. Everything sounds perfectly assembled, constructed, and tied together. Their unique garage-rock-meets-shoegaze-meets-Swedish-pop blend of aesthetics is heartwarming and special. I love these three and will only love them more as they continue to release more music.
P.S. - Do you hear the bass line of Blur's "Good Song" in "Heart Ache"?
Today, not such a great day. Tomorrow? Maybe cheerier. Hence the reason I'm diggin' ultCult, a cute London lo-fi quartet that's just ... chillin' me out, soothing me. I want to go to sleep.
They're the lowest of lo-fi -- all of the songs sound as though they were recorded in the vocalist's bathroom tub; all of the songs are masterfully restrained; all of the songs are uniquely complex and layered. UltCult is mystifying, though ... they're less resemblant of trashier lo-fi/twee/bedroom acts because they just seem so damn skilled. Give these four a studio and weathered producer, and they'd surely crank out some funky dance tracks, a handful of swooning ballads, and a set of compelling Stereolab-esque atmospheric, chilling ditties.
Listen to the two songs below and check out everything on the MySpace page and you'll get what I mean. Great vocalist, superb yet underspoken drumming, heavier-than-you'd-expect bass lines, and a warming pastiche of extra orchestral lines, synth bits, and sequencer use. Really cool stuff. Dig it and hope my spirits take a turn for the better.
Hailing from "Pop Heaven," Sweden, the duo seamlessly channels the two "extremes" of Labrador's sound. On one hand, they sound like Club 8 -- moody, atmospheric, baroque pop -- but on the other, they've the energy and hyper-pop leanings of say, the Legends or even Acid House Kings at times. Then again, one of the other songs on the Danger! EP, "Winding Roads," sounds pretty darn close to a Magnetic Fields rip off. And Mr. Pedro's remix of "Danger!" emulates the Pet Shop Boys like I've not heard in some time ...
Hard to place this one, but indubitably, they'll fit right in at Labrador. The EP -- which features the below "Danger!" tune -- will be released on Labrador Records on May 7 ... with a full-length following int he fall! Woo! Gotta hear much, much more of their stuff.
Japanese CDs are notoriously more expensive than the ones you'll find in the U.S. Even the "expensive" American discs are less than the cheaper Japanese ones. It's screwy, I know. But to entice consumers, the Japanese have been, for years, offering special bonus materials with the core product ... from extra tacked-on tunes to special limited edition CD-Rs to exclusive stickers, patches, and all sorts of swag.
I don't know if I'd ever pay the extra $10 or so for any of the above, but it seems to be doing the trick over there. Literally every Western artist's Japanese release has something extra added on to the tail end of their EP, LP, or even single ... and Vampire Weekend (MySpace) is no different. The Japanese release of the eponymous debut has two bonus tracks included on it: "Ladies of Cambridge" and "Arrows." While the former is on a Vampire Weekend single or something in the States, the latter has only been seen in concert. So consider this a completely illegitimate exclusive from BBBD. You dodged the bullet arrow (that's an in joke) and neither have to shell out $7 or so nor have to hop over to Tokyo to hear this song.
(A final note: "Arrows" deserves to be a b-side -- it's not all that great. Certainly worth a download and a thorough listen, but that's about it. Don't add this to any mixes for your significant other or repost it because it just ain't worth it.)
The three passed through L.A. on March 10 on their way to SXSW and a few other select U.S. locations before kicking off their "real" tour in April. I was fortunate to meet up with them on behalf of Anthem in between their countless interviews, photo shoots, performances, DJ sets, and scarfing down of food. We captured some photo shoot footage and a brief interview at the Modular offices in Echo Park, tons of concert footage at the Echo, and a significant portion of their after-party DJ set.
Check out the full story over at Anthem Online and stream the stellar "So Cosmic" DJ set below (too good to forget about).
I'll admit ignorance here: I'm still in the dark when it comes to Buffetlibre. I understand that the Buffetlibre DJs are a group of Spanish DJs that tour around and make mixes and do the usual Internet promotion thing, but I don't understand their story, their history, their raison d'etre, or anything along those lines.
But that's fine since I only want to report one simple thing here: Buffetlibre DJs latest mixes -- Verbena Selected 2 and Verbena Rewind 2. I've yet to listen to both in their entireties, but they're rocking so far, and I highly recommend them. Selected is a modern compilation of unusual, rare, and all-around killer electronic tracks, many of which are remixes. Grab it here and check out the tracklist after the jump.
Rewind is, to me, more interesting as it's an 80s-themed two-part mix that I actually contributed a song to! Each song was selected by a blogger, from I Heart Comix to Big Stereo to Disco Dust. The idea of blogger-generated mix that lives online is pretty compelling, and it actually turned out quite well!
Grab part one here and part two here. I contributed Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Behind the Mask" to the mix -- find it on part two (tracklist after the jump).
VERBENA SELECTED 2
- SINTONIA BUFFETLIBRE - THE AVALANCHES ’Electricity’ [Selected by CUT COPY] - JANE CHILD ’Don’t Want To Fall In Love’ [Selected by GIRL TALK] - LE TIGRE ’Deceptacon (DFA Remix)’ [Selected by MAKE MODEL] - MIDNIGHT JUGGERNAUTS ’Nine Lives’ [Selected by DAMAGE] - SIDECHAINS ’Real’ [Selected by BUFFETLIBRE DJ’S] - THE PRESETS ’My People (D.I.M. Remix)’ [Selected by RIOT IN BELGIUM] - YELLE ’A Cause de Garcons (TEPR Remix)’ [Selected by AUTOKRATZ] - JACKNIFE LEE ’Making Me Money (Switch Remix)’ [Selected by THE GLIMMERS] - PACIFIC ’Runaway to Elsewhere’ [Selected by DATA] - YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA ’Rydeen’ [Selected by CAZALS] - BLOODY BEETROOTS ’I Love The Bloody Beetroots’ [Selected by CROOKERS] - ALTER EGO ’Why Not’ [Selected by SHY CHILD] - DAVID RUBATO ’Circuit’ [Selected by THE REQUESTERS] - UNDERWORLD ’Bruce Lee (Micronauts Remix)’ [Selected by BIG FACE] - FUNK D’VOID ’Ginebra (Funk d’Voids Cocktail Mix)’ [Selected by ALAN BRAXE] - CHROMATICS ’Mask’ [Selected by THE GOSSIP] - SEBASTIAN ’Kinder Kut’ [Selected by DJ MEHDI] - DEEE-LITE ’What Is Love’ [Selected by BUSY P]
VERBENA REWIND 2
TRACKLIST PART 1: - SINTONIA BUFFETLIBRE - SHANNON ’Let The Music Play (12’’ version) ’ [Selected by BIG STEREO] - MR. FLAGIO ’Take A Chance (Extended 12" Version)’ [Selected by THE LEMUR BLOG] - STRAFE ’Set It Off’ [Selected by DISCOBELLE] - ADONIS ’No Way Back (Vocal mix)’ [Selected by ELECTRIC ZOO] - FLASH & THE PAN ’Midnight Man’ [Selected by MONDOSONORO] - LIME ’Guilty Of Love (extended mix)’ [Selected by THE BEEB BLOG] - HUMAN LEAGUE ’Don’t You Want Me’ [Selected by LEKTROLOGIK] - SALT N PEPPA ’Push It’ [Selected by VERSUS] - DEBBIE DEB ’Lookout Weekend’ [Selected by D SQUARED] - KLAPTO ’Queen Of The Night’ [Selected by DISCO DUST] - DEPECHE MODE ’My Secret Garden’ [Selected by GO MAGAZINE] - INXS ’New Sensation’ [Selected by ELECTRORASH] - APB ’Shoot You Down’ [Selected by PARDON MY FREEDOM] - SNAKE CORPS ’This is Seagull’ [Selected by KLUBBERS] - NICK KAMEN ’Promise Myself’ [Selected by PROYECTO BATIDORA] - THE CURE ’Six Different Ways’ [Selected by RED THREAT] - DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS ’Come On Eileen’ [Selected by TRASH MENAGERIE]
TRACKLIST PART 2: - SINTONIA BUFFETLIBRE - BILLY OCEAN ’Loverboy’ [Selected by BUFFETLIBRE] - DEAD OR ALIVE ’You Spin Me Round’ [Selected by SUPERLASER] - PETE SHELLEY ’Homosapien’ [Selected by ROCK SELLOUT] - PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED ’This Is Not A Love Song’ [Selected by GET WEIRD TURN PRO] - GRAUZONE ’Eisbär’ [Selected by NEONIZED] - PHIL COLLINS ’Easy Lover’ [Selected by MADRID ACID BOYS] - CYNDI LAUPER ..She Bop (Special Dance Remix)’ [Selected by UNA PIEL DE ASTRACAN] - MIRAGE ’Get Down’ [Selected by STREETKISS] - DEEE-LITE ’Groove Is In The Heart’ [Selected by IHEARTCOMIX] - HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS ’The Power Of Love’ [Selected by DISCO DELICIOUS] - YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA ’Behind The Mask’ [Selected by BIBABIDI] - FAST EDDIE ’I Can Dance’ [Selected by KIDZ BY COLETTE] - SURVIVOR ’Eye Of The Tiger’ [Selected by PANDA TOES] - BEASTIE BOYS ’Fight For Your Rights’ [Selected by SUPERNOVA POP] - MICHAEL JACKSON ’Beat It’ [Selected by PRETTY MUCH AMAZING] - NEW ORDER ’Ceremony’ [Selected by CAUSE=TIME]
My apologies for this insult before I even lay it out ... Who the heck decides to go by Remdog!? Sorry. Can't deal with it. You might be a talented guy ... a smart person ... a great musical talent ... but as long as you go by Remdog, I'm not a subscriber, fan, or follower.
London's Remdog merits some attention, though, for producing a pretty good remix of the Kills' (MySpace) first single off Midnight Boom, "U.R.A. Fever." It's an amazing LP, and, in my opinion, doesn't really deserve to be remixed, re-edited, or reinterpreted, but some have felt the compulsion to do so, and I can't argue with that.
Remdog's remix is easy-going and stripped down ... it's essentially a vocal rendition of the original tune, so if only for that reason it's interesting, that's fair. Anyway. You all know how great the Kills are, so I don't need to say much more ... enjoy the remix.
Today is turning out to be a celebration of Hybris, and that's certainly not a bad thing!
Vapnet (MySpace) has been around for three or four years now (more?), increasingly becoming a central piece of the Swedish guitar-pop scene. They play clean and crisp indie pop that, while always energetic, jangly, and summery, persistently has a melancholy air lingering, making their music enticingly contradicting and a little confusing (should you feel happy or sad? introspective or outward?) -- and the fact that they still sing in Swedish when practically every other Stockholm group is penning songs in English to make a legitimate jump to the U.S. doesn't clarify much.
But the music is so expressive; whatever it is you feel while listening to the sextet's tunes is probably approximately what they're trying to articulate in their mother tongue. The arrangements are crystal clear and meticulously put together -- nothing seems out of place, no chorus becomes tiresome, no melody leaves early or makes an unexpected turn, and every unorthodox instrument is welcome and never fails to appropriately integrate into the structure of the tune.
The band has a new album, Döda Fallet out on April 9 -- pre-order a hard copy here. The single from the LP, "Plötsligt händer det inte," is out now as a digital release and can be purchased here or you can pre-order the hard copy here. The below song is the b-side. You can find more freebies over at last.fm.
We posted a very, very low-quality version of Juvelen's (MySpace) hot new single, "Don't Mess," a few weeks back (if for some bizarre reason you'd prefer that version, visit the archived post), but since then, we've had a change of heart and are now offering a higher quality "Don't Mess" for download as well as a stream of the infectious, Latin-infused remix by Krazy Fiesta.
Hybris released the single -- buy the digital release or circular plastic disc version and support the wonderful, just-can't-make-a-wrong-move Swedish label. There seems to be a Juvelen long-player on the horizon, so get psyched for that (we're all getting tired of boss Swedish female singers -- when will a Morrissey, Mercury, or Gahan rise and properly rep the male voice in this post-Antony era?)
I think we were spot on with our March 5 description of the killer tune:
"Don't Mess" is a great tune ... it's a sublime merging of like, Cyndi Lauper and the Jackson Five. I put this on, and I alternate between wanting to sing the chorus to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "ABC" -- it's surreal, man.
Damn it, Sweden keeps getting more and more interesting. The music scene is perpetually morphing and diversifying, making it difficult to "get bored" of the Scandinavian nation.
BBBD wrote of SUMO (MySpace) last year, but the quartet has since passed under our radar. Which is a shame since they've been keeping busy with a new single, "It's Good" (which incidentally features Juvelen), and a tremendous amount of DJ and club work.
The one remix (technically it's a re-edit, but what the hell is the difference?) that caught my eye ear was of Lykke Li's "I'm Good, I'm Gone" (the best track off her Youth Novels LP). It's pretty true to the original and instantly recognizable as Lykke's song, but SUMO slowed things down a bit, added a goofy little synth line, some funkier rhythms and drum fills, and layered Ms. Li's vocals in a subtlety different manner. Very cool. Very good.
Get down to this jam. She's in Austin right now, I think ... be prepared for a Lykke explosion!
Sweden Sweden Sweden today, tomorrow, next week, next month ... I'm so biased, man ... it's pitiful. Anyway. No self-pitying inner-monologues today.
The Sweet Serenades (MySpace) is a Stockholm-based duo that plays this I'm From Barcelona sort of campy sing along stuff combined with rougher American garage rock and a hint of folksier leanings. Apparently Martin, one of the pair, is in Club 8's live band -- small world (or maybe not really ... it would be if both bands lived in totally separate cities or spoke different languages or something). A cutesier version of the Thrills or a peppier Kings of Leon ... something along those lines.
The band released the superb First Taste EP; five rather disparate and differing tunes jammed into one disc. Pick it up over at CD Baby or, if you're more of a digital dude, get it at iTunes. Righteous.
And here're a few tracks for your sampling pleasure and perusal.
The Teenagers just released a new single, "Love No," on March 10. There are actually three different versions of the 7" to be picked up ... one has "Love No" as the a-side with "Trouble" on the reverse, another has "Love No" covered by Soko with "Tiger" as the b-side, and the other one has two remixes of "Love No," one by Tepr (below) and the other by Delorean (which you can grab from BBBD right here -- it's solid).
So now you want to get all three in addition to the XL-released Reality Check (buy it!), right? Maybe not.
Anyway, download the remix by the trio's fellow French compatriot, Tepr, below. The rework is spastic and infused with cheesy 90s rave vibes, but is fun and undeniably "works" with the Teenagers' overall aesthetic and vibe. (Everyone's remixing this tune, huh?)
Sweden's talented chanteuse, teamed with Italian disco influenced super-producer Johan Agebjörn, Sally Shapiro (MySpace) has been slowly creeping back into our iPod playlists with news of numerous DJ sets, new singles (including the killer cover of Charlie's "Spacer Woman"), and now, finally, a remix album (cleverly titled Remix Romance Vol. 1, out in April).
The remix compilations include reworks by the likes of Juan MacLean, the Cansecos, Junior Boys, Lindström, CFCF, Dntel, Russian Futurists, and plenty others. In total, there are twenty remixes spread out amongst the two discs, so be sure to pick up both as they're all killer.
The Shapiro/Agebjörn collaborative pairing is perfect: Agebjörn's super-clean, bass heavy yet space-y production style melds sublimely with Shapiro's alto-leaning, smooth vocal style, and fortunately, little of that original quality is lost or diluted in the remixes. So don't be skeptical! They're rad.
BBBD's waiting for Sweden's exquisite record label, Songs I Wish I Had Written, to offer us a P.R. job since we rep them so friggin' much, but alas, our inbox remains in want of such propositions.
The label -- also home to Moto Boy, the LK, Le Sport (you heard it here!) -- just released a new freebie single by Gentle Touch (MySpace), "Once You Used To" from the forthcoming proper long-player, In Memory of Savannah.
Imagine Shout Out Louds covering Depeche Mode or, better yet, the Pet Shop Boys ... with a 90s alternative rock side note also in the picture.
This is cool stuff that's very Songs I Wish I Had Written, very hooky, very soothing, and, of course, very gentle. Check it out!
Oh yeah! And be sure to view PSL's acoustic set Gentle Touch film as it exposes a grittier, punkier, and rawer side of the otherwise subdued duo. (PSL is to Sweden what Take Away Show is to France.)
Check out the first half of the interview here! And speaking of touring ... what're your live shows like? Exuberant? Relaxed? Do you try to add something different to the songs or are you too occupied with just playing the notes?
I'm not sure what they are like for the audience -- for us, we just give our live shows everything we have at that particular moment. We're a rock band I suppose, so we put a lot of energy into it: there is occasional bleeding, mandatory sweating, falling down, guitar solos, drum fills, inexcusably bad dancing (on our part only) etc. We play our songs and occasionally indulge in a long ending rock out, most of the time we try to keep it only tastefully long. People seem to like it though.
I hate to ask this question, and I rarely do, but your name is just too damn strange. Are you named after the French artist, Yves Klein's 'Blue Monochrome' or is that just sheer coincidence? Anyway -- where'd it come from? Does it connote any particular meaning for you?
Not at all -- its a perfectly natural question. Yes -- or at least you are on the right track. We named ourselves after the color IKB (a hue invented and patented by Klein which a great deal of work, including "Blue Monochrome" is painted with). The color is famous because it appears the same dry as it does wet - it does not lose its vibrancy with age. I guess you can take our name as a metaphor, as it is our aspiration to create music of timeless quality, lasting music. Whether we do or not is another story altogether.
Here's a more conceptual one for you. You're a great band, but is it ever frustrating to know that, as time passes, there's less and less of a chance of (a) distinguishing yourselves from the massive piles of music that surround up and (b) be appreciated, remembered? Are these just not concerns or is it something that sort of ... haunts and bothers you?
Thats a big question. I must preface this by saying I'm absolutely pooped and my brain may not be able to apprehend all the relevant thoughts disobediently whizzing about inside my skull however I'll do my best. Well it's not a concern, in short, but I am unable to answer questions succinctly. You are saying that its competition with our peers and teachers and we have more teachers than our teachers did sort of? right? So, first of all I would question the accuracy of those statements -- people have made breakthroughs in music, but its all a cobbled up version of everything they know to exist and consider relevant and then they open up their mouths up kind of thing most of the time so in a way this has always been the case. Further things always get rehashed and sometimes its successful and even less times its inventive but it happens. Might it be, maybe its just the number of "first times" that has diminished? Its all been done to a certain extent but in away its always all been done. I think you have to distinguish yourself from is the hoard of music produced by your contemporaries more than those that have come before you. People look back on the 60s nostalgically as a golden era of music (it of course was) however, they forget that the pool that we listen to now is what survives from masses and masses of cheaply cut 7"s of market-orientated pop bands. I don't think its harder now; I imagine it's the same thing today, it's just you don't know until down the track. In any case, I don't think you can calculate being remembered; you can only write what you can write to a certain extent. Being remembered is not something that is left up to you after all ... Fuck it! I don't know! I can only answer that question in this multiple choice format ...
(A) Yes (B) Strongly disagree (C) A protective mask worn by bee keepers (D) None of the above
And I choose ... (C).
Rapid fire shorties: Favorite Australian beer? XXXX Bitter.
Favorite Australian band? John Steel Singers
Favorite band at present? Tom Waits (is he a band?)
Australia's band on the rise, Yves Klein Blue, answered a few questions BBBD shot their way. They're on the verge of exploding onto the music scene right now, so read this as it's their last testament as being an "undiscovered" band.
You guys are Australian, so I have to ask: what's the Australian music scene like in general? What about the Brisbane/Melbourne/Sydney dynamic?
I have no objectivity or external reference but I'm going to blindly say that it is very healthy. Everyone of those cities you mentioned has a different dynamic -- but it wouldn't be doing any city justice to sum them up in a genre, and I dare not try lest I offend someone. Suffice to say that whenever we arrive in a city to play a show we are always rushing out on free nights or after we play to see a group of some description.
How did you four come together? Any dramatic, exciting stories?
Truthfully, no. Its less than mundane -- we met in high school and university. But! You could choose to believe that we were at one time all arch enemies working for different governments and during a tremendous gun battle on a glacier in the arctic circle fell down into an ice cave where nature, with a closed hand, offered up a simple choice: cooperate or die. During the 17 years we spent in the ice cave we developed a mutual respect, even love for one another. Then it gets a little hazy ... at some point we escaped from the ice cave and formed a band.
You've a very unique sound ... it's garage-y; it's straight up rock; it's proto-punk a la the Velvet Underground; it's Austrlian pub-rock; it's indie-pop ... it's so much all at once, but you put it together into one concise sound that's completely yours. So -- how do you personally describe your music? What are you trying to achieve with the sound?
First of all, thank you. What are we trying to achieve? Um, I'm not sure -- songs are mysterious (they seem to come together of their own accord, I'm not sure as to the extent that you can direct them). We are all fans of older music, surviving music if you will -- so I think that comes into it. We want to make something classic, and interesting -- so we try to steer clear of anything obvious or cheesy, unless its absolutely necessary (although most of the time cheese is liberally applied).
I'm trying to dodge the question. Well, its difficult for me to describe our music, I have no perspective or objectivity. I'd say its like a blend of old punk, 50's rock 'n' roll, R&B, gypsy jazz, glam rock, classic rock, ska, reggea, and indie rock. Or you could just call it indie rock I suppose (a conveniently inclusive genre). And we're heavily influenced by the sound of a piece of toast hitting the ground jam side down. (SHIT! NOW THERE ARE LITTLE PIECES OF DUST AND SMALL UNIDENTIFIABLE DRIED GRASS LIKE FLAKE THINGYS ON MY TOAST!)
Clearly there're a lot of influences seeping out of your tunes. Who're some of the people you most enjoy?
We really like... (audible inhalation) the Clash, David Bowie, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Toots & the Maytals, Bob Marley, the Specials, the Cure, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Stone Temple Pilots, the Pixies, Elvis Costello, Kings of Leon, Dappled Cities Fly, the Strokes, Tom Waits, Fleetwood Mac, the Band and there are lots more, but that will do for now right? (Panting.) (Sound of a defibrillator being turned on.)
A bit of a dumb one here. If I said your singing voice sounds a bit like Carl Barât, would you be confused, flattered, or upset with the comparison?
No thats not dumb, its quite understandable -- I guess you could say I'm surprised (that you didn't immediately think of Julian Casablancas). And to actually answer question, I suppose I'm flattered because he's a pretty good singer. My "singing heroes" (as it were) (and if this was the bush you were beating around) are more like Bowie, Sinatra, Reed, and Casablancas.
Musically, where do you four come from? What sort of experience do you carry? How'd you get into music, playing in a band, listening, etc.?
Well we all have the obligatory early childhood stuff -- piano lessons, plastic recorders (the wind instrument, not a device that records the sound of plastic objects of course) etc. Primary school bands: tick. High School Concert Band: Sean, Charles, and Chris only. Angsty Teenage Nirvana/Blues Rock Bands: Michael, Sean, and Charles only (we are Chris' first band; I feel like there is a duty of care there, like I owe him all the cliche blues and stoner rock jams I had as boy). Other than that we all learned to play our own instruments, to a large extent without tuition, there is not much formality. We are keen listeners though -- I first started listing to music quite late so I have an embarrassing ignorance of the 90s. I first remember thinking it would be a fine thing to play music after listening to NOFX and Pennywise. I was quite a little punk rocker for a stint, I engaged in activities such as playing only power chords and skateboarding. I even shaved my head and went to Warped Tour ... I look terrible with a shaved head, my skull is by no means even. So it was my spoilt punk friends who first got me into a band -- I was the singer because I couldn't play any instruments. But we didn't own a mic, so I was pretty superfluous.
I love your demos so, so much. What was it like recording them? Any particular process or did you just rock out for a few days?
Again, thank you. Its hard for me to believe that they are a couple of years old now, its actually very nostalgic to listen to them -- Sean had only been in the band for about two weeks and every time we listen to it he kills himself over all the mistakes he made (naturally we put it on whenever he is especially cheerful, just to bring him down to our level). We knocked them out -- no method -- in a studio call Alchemix in Wooloongabba. The total recording time was 8 hours, the only overdubs we did were the vocals and the solos I think, then we mixed it overnight. We did it for absolutely nothing, like maybe 300 bucks or something like that -- 300 bucks and a bottle of bourbon for the lovely Matt Whitehouse who didn't charge us nearly as much as he should have. I remember it was so exciting and I felt stretched, I was trying against all odds to study for mid semesters while doing the mixing. Acedemia was once again the victim I'm afraid (intentional misspelling ... lol). At the time we had absolutely no idea, doing our new EP was a total eye opener, but I still think they sound pretty good.
What're the future plans? Is there an album in the works? Touring?
We have our first release coming out -- an EP, its called Yves Klein Blue Draw Attention to Themselves. It'll be out in April in Australia -- on iTunes as well but I don't know if that is international or not. But look out for it; I very much hope you get to hear it as we are very pleased with how it all turned out. Other than that ... I believe the phrase "heavy touring" sums up our plans nicely. Perhaps a real album in early 2009? I salivate at the prospect however the details are all a bit uncertain at the moment on that front at the moment ... (In other news, our [pretend] debut album entitled "?"!* is released metaphysically on the 31th of February when the moon is full. You can purchase it at all reputable frontal cortexes. But I wouldn't recommend getting it because it may or may not exist.)