Recension: Agent Blå

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Och så var den här, Agent Blås fullängdare, efter en lång rad singlar. Singlarna, som alla återfinns på albumet, var larmiga postpunkdängor med mycket (döds)popkänsla. Resten av albumet låter likadant. Det är ett jämnt och enhetligt album, och kvalitén är definitivt hög, men det är aningen odynamiskt. De göthbergska Robert Smith-gitarrerna går som en röd tråd genom hela plattan. Likaså det relativt snabba tempot, och skivan hade absolut tjänat på ett par långsammare nummer för att bryta av och skapa fler nyanser och mer djup. Det ska dock tillstås att gitarrerna är skivans stora behållning – lead-gitarristen är Göteborgs nästa gitarrhjälte.

Man uppnår en dynamik med sistaspåret, tillika plattans odiskutabelt bästa låt, Faust. En sex minuter lång, kylig postpunk-dräpare om en relation som inte riktigt vill sig. Här tar gitarrerna stor plats och de gör de allra bästa av det. Jag gläds med alla unga (och olyckliga) dödspopälskare, som får ha denna pärla i hörlurarna på väg hem efter någon mindre lyckad kväll. Här hittar man en tyngd och ett uttryck som man mer än gärna får ta med sig till uppföljaren. Och jag ser fram emot att följa dem.

 

Bild hämtad härifrån.

 

Manchester – 10 of the best

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I’ll be writing this English, because the situation calls for it.

In honor of today’s events, here is a list celebrating one of my favourite cities on the planet – Manchester. Ten of the best Manchester songs of all time. One song per artist/band/songwriter, and the artist must be from the Greater Manchester area.

Stay strong, stay handsome, and remain your brilliant self.

 

10. I am KlootTo the Brink

  • Kloot’s beautiful 2010 paean to drink and the safe havens that are Northern English pubs.

9. John Cooper Clarke Beasley Street

  • Apparently about the rundown streets of Salford in the late 70’s. Dark, gritty, mancunian spoken word by the true bard of the urban North West.

8. MagazineMotorcade

  • Howard Devoto looks at the world from a twisted perspective, while death creeps up slowly all around.

7. The ChameleonsPerfume Garden

  • Gorgeous atmospheric mix between dream pop and post punk, about the fallacies of nostalgia.

6. The VerveSonnet

5. Bee GeesHow Deep Is Your Love

  • Born on the Isle of Wight, raised in Manchester, started their career in Australia, made it big after moving back to Britain, heavily associated with New York Disco. They’re not Mancs through and through, but just about. And it helps if you’ve made one of the most beautiful love songs of the 70’s.

4. Stone Roses Mersey Paradise

  • At first glance a jangly celebration of the North West. But a closer look reveals suicidal thoughts, drowning and betrayal. Cheerful music, disturbing lyrics – how Mancunian.

3. Joy DivisionAtmosphere

  • No other band embodies the post-industrial and gritty air of Manchester and the North West better than Joy Division, and this haunting, elegiac piece is perhaps the best example of it.

2. OasisLive Forever

  • Exactly the kind of message of love and freedom the world and Manchester need right now.

1. MorrisseyNow My Heart Is Full

  • The title says it all.

 

The picture is LS Lowry‘s The Blitz, retrieved from here.

News: The return of Algiers

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Algiers released their debut album in 2015, and it was one of the best albums of that year. Now, they’re back. A new album is out June 23rd via Matador Records, and the first single was released a few days ago. The single (and the album) is called The Underside of Power, and it is a smash! Their unique and patented mix of chilly post-punk electronics and gospel is interspersed with a motownesque chorus, and the result is magnificent.

The lyrics speak of solidarity with those oppressed by the (corrupted) powers that be, and they’re much needed in these times of Trump, right-wing extremism and murderous police.

“Because I’ve seen the underside of power/ It’s just a game that can’t go on/ It could break down any hour/ I’ve seen their faces and I’ve known them all.”

The single is accompanied by a video. Watch it here.

Recension: Slowgold – Drömmar

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Vissa reagerar sent. Men nu har det hänt – jag har börjat lyssna på Slowgold. Detta är förstås mycket tack vare att Amanda Werne (som ju är Slowgold) sjunger på årets bästa skiva, Pelle Osslers Evig himmelsk fullkomning, och gästade Pelle på hans konserter nu i april. Men ibland behövs det något sådant. Något som väcker en och knuffar en framåt, får en att fatta.

Amanda släppte den femte Slowgold-plattan, Drömmar, i februari, och den tillhör det finaste jag hört i år. Folk snackar om progg, om hennes göteborgska bakgrund. Jag hör det inte. Jag hör lika delar Monica Zetterlund, lika delar Yo La Tengo, med ett stänk Greenwich-gitarrer från 60-talet här och var. Samtidigt låter hon inte som någon annan i Sverige just nu. Jag kommer jag inte på någon annan i Sverige som verkar inom samma referensramar, och får till samma sound, och att haspla ur sig namn och genrer är att förenkla hennes sound. Lyssna i stället.

Mest representativ för skivan: Andetag

– Drömsk indie, zetterlundsk vis-jazz. Essensen av Slowgolds sound.

Bäst på skivan: Evighet

– Psykofarmaka omvandlat till ett ljudspår. En varm akustisk ballad (med ett dragspel från himlen sänt) som driver varje demon på flykt.

Se Slowgold här i vår och sommar:

Bild hämtad härifrån.

Recommendation/New Discovery: Hater

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I’ll be writing this post in English since the band’s lyrics are in English. They also have a great chance of making it outside of their native Sweden (mainly because I think they’re good enough) and as many people as possible should check them out.

The band I’m speaking of is Hater, hailing from Malmö, Sweden. They debuted last year with an EP, Radius, released on PNKSLM. Their first full length, titled You Tried, was released one month ago (also on PNKSLM), and that album is the main focus of this post.

The music that Hater play is a moody sort of (indie-)pop. It’s not cute enough to be twee, it’s not dark enough to be post punk, not fuzzy enough to be shoegaze nor shimmering enough to be dream pop. Yet they incorporate all of these genres into their own expression. They have the aforementioned moodiness, and some of the darkness, of certain types of post punk (Common Way, Always to Get By). They have the wistfulness and melancholy found in dream pop (Carpet, You Tried) and the sometimes distorted, sometimes jangly guitars of C86/twee (Stay Gold, Mental Haven). And on Heavy Hearts they play an almost Fleetwood Mac-ian kind of sophisticated pop (pinch of salt, please) – in an ‘indie’ sort of way, of course.

Their singer, Caroline Landahl, alternates (convincingly) between hoarse cries and an almost velvet-y whisper. She sings of lost love, getting by in life, dealing with yourself and others – and I believe every word she says. The melodies surrounding her voice and lyrics are strong, yet subtle. You might not be walking down the street whistling any of the songs off of You Tried, but when you listen to the songs, the melodies, you feel them, way down in your gut.

I was supposed to see them live this past December, supporting Radio Dept., but my plans fell through (as so often they do…), and I wound up selling my ticket instead. Better luck next time, I hope. And hopefully soon!

Their album is available for purchase at PNKSLM’s store and all the usual places.

Photo from: http://pnkslm.tictail.com/product/hater-you-tried-lp-black-vinyl

10

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10 låtar som frammanar känslor och bilder av längtan, förlust, lycka och kärlek. 2:a mars 2017.

  1. Loveninjas – Once There Was a Girl and a Boy

 …when something matters to you this much

2. The Postal Service – Be Still My Heart

And on the bus I could have sworn it was all a dream
And it didn’t happen to me

3. Days – A Part of the World

We’re heading home as the sun comes up

4. Bright Eyes – Gold Mine Gutted

You were a stroke of luck 

5. Sällskapet – …den dan

Nu är nummer 13 ett lyckotal igen

6. Her Space Holiday – Tech Romance

You can show up at my house
Completely unannounced
We’ll have that movie kiss we talked about

7. Boat Club – Memories

and I know that I belong there,

with you

8. The Cure – One More Time

Hold me up so high
To touch the sky
Just one more time

9. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

And when we meet on a cloud
I’ll be laughing out loud
I’ll be laughing with everyone I see

10. The Good Life – Album of the Year

I’ve never felt so found

 

Fotot taget och redigerat av mig.

 

Spellista här.

 

My Formative Teenage Albums

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This entry is inspired by something I read on Pitchfork yesterday. There, the staffers had listed the ten albums from their formative teenage years that have made the most lasting impression on them. As a list geek I immediately figured I wanted to do the same. In chronological order, here are the ten most important albums from my formative years, age 14-18. I interpret “lasting impression” as either meaning albums that opened important doors to musical worlds in which one still dwells, or simply albums one thought was great back then and still does.

Billy Idol Billy Idol

– Time of discovery: late 2000, aged 14.

To be quite honest, Billy Idol is the original reason for me listening to alternative (pop/rock) music. Before seeing the White Wedding video on MTV’s “So 80’s” Weekend in the fall of 2000, the only music I listened to was hiphop and Michael Jackson (which is great, of course). Seeing this video, this sinister, weird, gothic video, changed everything. The song was equally sinister and weird, yet catchy, and with strange lyrics. It didn’t sound like anything I had ever heard before, or like anything my friends or classmates listened to. And the guy singing it was pale, skinny, wearing a red leather vest (with nothing underneath) and black pants, looking all cool and threatening. This was the first time I could even remotely see myself in a musician (even though we only had the pale and skinny thing in common – I was the least cool person you would ever meet). Earth-shattering. I went out and bought his self-titled debut album. I remember being disappointed that the other songs were kind of poppy, but it didn’t matter. I became a Billy Idol fanatic, and through him I discovered punk rock, and through punk I discovered…everything else. I became a…person. I developed some sort of style. I got ideas. Opinions.  Values. Stuff that’s still at the core of my being. Thank you, Billy. You’re one of the most criminally underrated singers/songwriters of all time (not to mention vocalists!).

Sex PistolsNever Mind the Bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols

Time of discovery: late 2000, aged 15.

– I had learned that Billy Idol was originally a punk and lead singer with original punks Generation X. This made me terribly interested in the genre, and for my 15th birthday I got a gift certificate at the record store CD Land and I bought this album. Another earth shattering moment. Again, it sounded like nothing I had ever heard. It was totally aggressive, but the lyrics were hilarious (without failing to convey important messages such as anti-royalism, solidarity and alienation) and their attitude was so off, so un-cool (the traditional sense of cool) and antisocial it instantly felt super cool. I was on my path to becoming an individual.

Ebba GrönKärlek och uppror

Time of discovery: 2000, aged 15.

-The dearest thing I ever discovered through punk rock. Cemented my love for all things Thåström – a love that gets stronger with each passing day. There’s no-one like him.

The CureThree Imaginary Boys

Time of discovery: early 2001, aged 15.

– I discovered The Cure on the same So 80’s Weekend on MTV as I did with Billy Idol (and a-ha! and The Clash!), although I had heard of them before. I knew they were moody and weird, and the video for Close to Me didn’t change that idea. It took me a few months, however, before buying my first Cure CD (and this was the only one that the record store had), but I liked it. It was guitar-driven, like the punk rock I usually listened to, but it was more understated, moodier, weirder. Mood-wise, this suited me better than punk and I got deeper and deeper into The Cure in the following years. They are still very dear to me.

Oasis(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

– Time of discovery: mid-late 2001, aged 15 or 16.

I missed the Britpop wave of the mid 90’s (I was too busy trying to learn how to Moonwalk and rap along to Biggie songs). But after listening to punk and Billy Idol and The Cure for a year or so, I knew I wanted to take it further. I knew of Oasis and I knew their most famous songs, so I decided to borrow their albums from the public library. And I don’t know what it was exactly, but they spoke to me. Their music had the attitude I loved from punk, combined with the wistfulness I more and more felt I needed from music. And so, another life long love began.

Bruce Springsteen The Rising

Time of discovery: mid-late 2002, aged 16.

– I was exploring my increasingly deeper interest in music and decided to check out this legend and his newly released and much talked-about comeback album. It was instant love and Bruce is now one of my all-time favorite artists, and someone I keep returning to. This is far from his greatest album, but it was the first one I heard and that’s important.

KentIsola

– Time of discovery: late 2002, aged 17.

My teen angst had really started to gain serious momentum at this point, and this album spoke to me. It was like discovering an album you always knew was out there, but one you never really seemed to find – until one day.

Joy DivisionSubstance: 1977-1980

Time of discovery: early 2003, aged 17.

– I bought it because I had been knocked out by Love Will Tear Us Apart, and even though the other stuff on the album was far less catchy, I loved it. It had a seriousness to it that I had never heard before. The lyrics were very abstract to my 17-year-old ears. Very pensive.  Very contemplative. They matched my more and more frequent…moods. My love for the band would however grow even stronger in the years to come and I now consider them one of my top 5 all time favorite bands.

The SmithsThe Queen Is Dead

Time of discovery: early-mid 2003, aged 17.

Solidified my lifelong love for Morrissey (and Marr). Helped me survive my teens, my twenties and with a little luck, my thirties and beyond.

Bright Eyes Fevers and Mirrors

Time of discovery: late 2003, aged 18.

I would become a full-fledged hardcore Conor Oberst fan in 2007, but this album blew me away four years prior. Conor is a more interesting songwriter now, but this album is definitely intense. I bought it on a whim, without having heard a single note from it, having read a blurb at the back of a three-year old music rag. I remember it said something overblown about angst. That sealed the deal for me. Glad it did!

 

Photo by me.