Once again time for an installment of Music that slipped through the cracks. Hard to believe I’m up to Part V already. This is roughly a once-monthly posting of music that I missed in previous reviews. It is never comprehensive. Oh, is it not. But nonetheless, it has to be done, just like any once-monthly chore, like bathing for hippies. This edition is led by some really strong albums by Swedish artists Loney, Dear and Miike Snow. Those crazy Swedes with their nonsensical monikers, what will they think of next?
Released: January 27, 2009 (EU)
Emil Svanängen (aka Loney, Dear) is the ultimate do-it-yourself artist, recording elaborate layered tracks in his parents basement or at his apartment, producing something absolutely gorgeous, and easily something that I can see myself enjoying years from now. Dear John, is fittingly enough, a “Dear John” letter, featuring heartbreak, hope, and remembrance. It is definitely a gem that had slipped through the cracks earlier this year.
For a taste, enjoy this live version of “Violent”
It is so hard to change
From wrong to everything O.K.
It’s so hard to change
When everything points to you
Violence, come closer
Believe in me
I’m rowing on a sea so wide
Dove into a river, wider than we had seen
Released: May 12, 2009 (EU)
I love this album. I just have to say that first, before I tell you who two-thirds of Miike Snow are: Bloodshy & Avant. Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg under the alias of Bloodshy & Avant are a writing and producing team that have created many of the pop hits in the last decade that have caused you and I much pain. They have worked with Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna. So, yeah, it’s with pretty conflicted feelings that I enjoy this album. It has indie pop sensibilities all over it, yet it was created by industry insiders who know how to write hit songs. In the end, I have to say that this is a great album to listen to, and without (much) shame I rate it quite highly.
For a taste, check out this live studio performance of “Silvia”
Misery is all we know lately
Saturdays are all the same
Sympathy is overrated
Like a snapshot when you’ve lost the game
Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King
Dave Matthews Band
Released: June 2, 2009 (US)
A little background is necessary to this album. Last year DMB lost one of their founding members, LeRoi Moore, after complications caused by an ATV accident. This album is in essence a celebration of Moore’s life and a forceful decision to move forward as a group. Musically, it is a little tighter and sharper than previous albums, which tended to replicate the free-flowing live performance style the band is renowned for, but is pleasing nonetheless. If you’ve never heard DMB before, you’re already lost, however, if you are a big fan of Dave, Big Whiskey is an album that fits solidly in the middle of their discography and will reward your ears with its N’Orleans sound.
For a taste, check out the video for “Why I Am”
A king of men, it makes no sense
Oh bow to the priest while I worship the wench
but it’s why I am always the one who’d make you smile
Why I am
I’m still a snake in the woodpile
It’s why I am still here dancing with the GrooGrux King
– Why I Am
Released: April 7, 2009 (Can)
It’s really fitting that following Canada Day I have some Canadian music, and honestly it is because of Canada Day. One of my friends made me listen to the song “Oh… Canada” as a potential theme song, and I must admit it grabbed my attention. I ended up looking up the rest of Classified’s first major label record (he’s put out twelve other albums, though) and wasn’t disappointed. I am definitely in the camp of casual listeners that enjoy hip hop when it is fun, but not stupid. Classified brings some witty, intelligent and self-reflective lyrics to an album filled with hooks, great grooves and a Canadian who’s who list of guests (Choclair, Maestro, Saukrates, Joel Plaskett, et al). Plus, bonus marks for adding the Choose Your Own Adventure options on this album. Interactivity is cool.
For a taste, check out this great animated video for “Trouble”
Yeah, now take a minute, and take a listen,
From Enfield straight spittin’, originate from Great Britain
Proud Maritimer, drinkin’ in my neighbour’s kitchen
Empty out the fridge, usually we overstay our visit
Wall of Arms
Released: May 4, 2009 (UK)
If you like indie rock, definitely check out The Maccabees’ Wall of Arms. It should come as no surprise there are similarities to The Arcade Fire as Wall of Arms was produced by Markus Dravs (Neon Bible). That’s not to say that The Maccabees are on the same level, but they deliver some great indie rock tracks, including the dark “No Kind Words”.
For a taste, check out this live version of “Love You Better”
Dear friend of mine has,
Broken his union
Broke from tradition
Broken his vision
of the future
Alone, Alone, Alone, Not alone at all
– No Kind Words
Released: May 4, 2009 (UK)
Shoe-gaze isn’t dead. If that sentence excites you, by all means check out Primary Colours, a darling of the UK critics. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you probably wouldn’t like it anyways. I checked out what all the fuss was about and had to say I was more than a little bit disappointed. But, to be fair, I’ve never really been drawn into the genre. If you enjoyed Joy Division (easily the biggest influence on The Horrors’ sound and a direct influence on the video for “Sea Within A Sea“), The Jesus and Mary Chain, and the like, you’ll dig this.
For a taste, watch the video for “Who Can Say”
I never meant for you to get hurt
And how I try, oh how I try
I could never give you just what you deserve
Another man would surely learn
I know these words may only serve to twist the knife
But I’ll strive to make them heard
Maybe it’s better now I’ve gone away
Maybe it’s not, oh who can say
– Who Can Say