Tag: Robyn

Tomode is an emerging Swedish funk act founded by Carl Leanderson and Viktor Westerberg. Interestingly, the act can trace its origins to Leanderson’s and Westerberg’s mutual love of funk and disco. After spending a couple of years developing and honing their sound, the Swedish duo’s debut single “Destiny, No. 20” firmly establishes their sound and approach: featuring Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line and shuffling four-on-the-floor, and an enormous hook, “Destiny, No. 20” will command comparisons to Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky,” and Chic’s “Good Times.” And much like those songs, the song is centered around a wistful and aching desire to escape — in nostalgia, as much as it is to escape to the dance floor.

“We want to make music that can act as a remedy to the slight despair we all feel, living
through the 2020’s,” the members of the emerging Swedish funk pop act say in press notes. ” Destiny No. 20 opens the door to everything we love – it’s got vibrant
drums, pulsating arpeggios, disco guitars and a funky bassline. It’s as much ‘Good Times’ with Chic as it is ‘Dancing On My Own‘ with Robyn. Hopefully it ignites a spark somewhere out there in the darkness.”

The band plans to release material throughout the summer — with their debut EP slated for release during the fall.

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New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

Live Footage: Les Big Byrd Perform “A Little More Numb” at Tapetown Studios

Comprised of founding duo Jocke Åhlund and Frans Johansson along with Frans Johansson and Martin Ehrencrona, the Stockholm Sweden-based indie rock act Les Big Byrd features a collection of their hometown’s most accomplished indie musicians.  Åhlund co-founded cult Teddybears with his brother Klas in 1991. Åhlund went on to play guitar in Caesars — and formed Smile, with Peter, Björn and John’s Björn Yttling. And in that insanely busy period, Åhlund managed to find time to write for and produce the legendary Giorgio Moroder and renowned Swedish pop artist Robyn. Johansson, meanwhile, was a bassist in Swedish Grammy Award-winning act Fireside since the early nineties and worked as a touring bassist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

As the story goes, by 2011 Åhlund and Johansson had become increasingly disillusioned with their primary gigs and they began to collaborate with each other, frequently bouncing musical ideas off one another; the band’s founding duo quickly recruited two fellow grizzled scene vets, keyboardist Martin ‘Konie’ Ehrencrona and Caesars drummer Nino Keller to finalize the band’s lineup. 

The band’s debut, 2014’s Back to Bagarmossen EP was an atmospheric, guitar driven effort that found the quartet receiving attention from Swedish national TV. Interestingly, with a growing national profile. the members of Les Big Byrd ran into The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe at a local record store, and after hitting it off with him, the band headed to Newcombe’s Berlin-based studio to jam with him — and the end result was a handful of tracks which eventually appeared on their critically applauded Åhlund-produced full-length debut, They Worshipped Cats, an album that was a decided left turn into trippy space rock.

In the winter of 2015, 18 months after the release of They Worshipped Cats, Åhlund was looking forward to working on new material; however, unlike their debut, he was determined to bring in an outside producer to allow him to focus just on the songwriting and playing. With much of their material drawing heavily from psych rock and drone, while retaining a pop sensibility, the band recruited Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a.Pete Kember) to produce the album as the band loved his work on MGMT‘s 2010 sophomore album Congratulations.  The initial sessions with Kember quickly went awry; Kember clashed with Newcombe, who also headed to Sweden to work on some ideas for the record with the band — and Åhlund eventually found himself taking up the production role, he didn’t want and wasn’t seeking.

Burned out by the experience, the band shelved the second album for a while.  “I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed to get some distance from it,” Åhlund says in press notes. “It was only after a while that I was able to go back and realise that there was a really good album in there.” The members of Les Big Byrd spent the bulk of last year remaking and re-imaging the material in their own image — with Kember and Newcombe’s contributions being limited. Recorded between two Stockholm studios — Åhlund’s own and Ehrencrona’s Studio Cobra — the band’s sophomore album Iran Iraq IKEA derives its title from a slogan that Åhlund’s saw printed on a tie while in Berlin years earlier and wanted to use for years; in fact, Åhlund felt that it suited the album, “because it gave it all some kind of subtly poetic intrigue.” However, the album’s politics — if you really want to call it that — are rooted within the personal, As Åhlund says in press notes,  “It’s about classic topics like love and failure. And about being older and feeling like you’ve pissed your life away, It’s about regrets and wishing you’d done things another way,”

The band’s Åhlund takes up production duties again, but with the admission that maybe it was something he never really wanted to give up — and sonically speaking, the band reportedly have reinvented themselves and their sound but while retaining elements of the sound and approach that first won them national and international attention.  “I still love my krautrock, and space rock, and experimental, improvisational stuff” says Åhlund. “But I also have a strong love for psychedelic sixties pop music, and I love reverb-drenched guitar with a lot of tremolo on it. All of those things make it on to Iran Iraq IKEA, but the lines are blurred – there’s a lot of electronics, and you can’t always tell where each individual sound is coming from. Hopefully it’s suggestive, a little bit uncertain and unpredictable, at least that’s what I wanted.”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you’d recall that Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios in partnership with Sound of Aarhus have been inviting national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studios for a live session, which they film and distribute through all of your favorite social media sites. So far they’ve inited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his The Fresh & Onlys, renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes,  Malmo, Sweden-based punk rock act Sista Bossen, Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet ONBC, and up-and-coming, Los Angeles-based post punk rock act Moaning.  Recently, the members of Les Big Byrd stopped by Tapetown Studios to perform the bittersweet lament “A Little More Numb.” 

Comprised of founding duo Jocke Åhlund and Frans Johansson along with Frans Johansson and Martin Ehrencrona, the Stockholm Sweden-based indie rock act Les Big Byrd features a collection of their hometown’s most accomplished indie musicians.  Åhlund co-founded cult hardcore outfit/genre-benders Teddybears with his brother Klas in 1991, and went on to play guitar in Caesars and form another duo, Smile, with Peter, Björn and John’s Björn Yttling. He also managed to find the time to write for and produce Giorgio Moroder and renowned Swedish pop artist Robyn. Johansson, meanwhile, had played bass in Swedish Grammy Award-winners Fireside since the early nineties and worked as a touring bassist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives. As the story goes, by 2011 Åhlund and Johansson had become increasingly disillusioned with their primary gigs and they began to collaborate with each other, frequently bouncing musical ideas off one another; the band’s founding duo quickly recruited two fellow grizzled scene vets, keyboardist Martin ‘Konie’ Ehrencrona and Caesars drummer Nino Keller to finalize the band’s lineup.

The band’s debut release, 2014’s Back to Bagarmossen EP was an atmospheric, guitar driven effort that found the quartet receiving attention from Swedish national TV. As the Stockholm-based indie quartet’s profile was growing nationally, they ran into The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe at a local record store, and after hitting it off with him, the band headed to Newcombe’s Berlin-based studio to jam with him — and the end result was a handful of tracks which eventually appeared on their critically applauded  Åhlund-produced full-length debut, They Worshipped Cats, an album that was a decided left turn into trippy space rock.

In the winter of 2015, 18 months after They Worshipped Cats‘ release, Åhlund was looking forward to working on new material; however, unlike their debut, he was determined to bring in an outside producer to allow him to focus just on the songwriting and playing. With much of their material drawing heavily from psych rock and drone, while retaining a pop sensibility, the band recruited Spacemen 3‘s Pete Kember to produce the album as the band loved his work on MGMT‘s 2010 sophomore album Congratulations.  Unfortunately and perhaps unsurprisingly, the initial sessions with Kember quickly went awry; Kember clashed with Newcombe, who also headed to Sweden to work on some ideas for the record with the band — and Åhlund eventually found himself taking up the production role, he didn’t want and wasn’t seeking.

Burned out by the experience, the band shelved the second album for a while.  “I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed to get some distance from it,” Åhlund says in press notes. “It was only after a while that I was able to go back and realise that there was a really good album in there.” The members of Les Big Byrd spent the bulk of last year remaking and re-imaging the material in their own image — with Kember and Newcombe’s contributions being limited. Recorded between two Stockholm studios — Åhlund’s own and Ehrencrona’s Studio Cobra — the band’s long-awaited, forthcoming sophomore album Iran Iraq IKEA derives its title from a slogan that Åhlund’s saw printed on a tie while in Berlin years earlier and wanted to use for years; in fact, Åhlund felt that it suited the album, “because it gave it all some kind of subtly poetic intrigue.” However, the album’s politics — if you really want to call it that — are rooted within the personal, As Åhlund says in press notes,  “It’s about classic topics like love and failure. And about being older and feeling like you’ve pissed your life away, It’s about regrets and wishing you’d done things another way,”

The band’s Åhlund takes up production duties again, but with the admission that maybe it was something he never really wanted to give up — and sonically speaking, the band reportedly have reinvented themselves and their sound but while retaining elements of the sound and approach that first won them national and international attention.  “I still love my krautrock, and space rock, and experimental, improvisational stuff” says Åhlund. “But I also have a strong love for psychedelic sixties pop music, and I love reverb-drenched guitar with a lot of tremolo on it. All of those things make it on to Iran Iraq IKEA, but the lines are blurred – there’s a lot of electronics, and you can’t always tell where each individual sound is coming from. Hopefully it’s suggestive, a little bit uncertain and unpredictable, at least that’s what I wanted.”

“Geräusche,” Iran Iraq IKEA‘s third and latest single, is the album’s opening track and interestingly enough, the song’s title is the German word for “noise” — although ironically, the expansive and atmospheric, krautrock-like track is centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated keys, angular guitar lines, mathematically precise beats and dreamy sense of harmony that in some way brings Evil Heat-era Primal Scream and Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” but with a lysergic vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Renowned Swedish Electro Pop Artist Releases Unsettling and Brutal Visuals for an Uncompromisingly Honest Album Single

Jenny Wilson is a Swedish-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and electronic music artist, who founded and fronted First Floor Power, an act that was signed to The Knife’s Rabid Records; in fact, The Knife’s Karin Dreijer wrote the duet “You Take My Breath Away” after catching a First Floor Power set. Wilson has also appeared on renowned Swedish synth pop artist Robyn’s debut EP; but as a solo artist, Wilson has won 3 Swedish Grammi Awards for her fourth full-length album, 2013’s Demand The Impossible!, which she self-produced and released while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Wilson’s fifth full-length album EXORCISM is slated for an April 20, 2018 release through Gold Medal Recordings — and while the album is the first batch of new material from Wilson in over five years, the album may arguably be the most unflinchingly personal material she’s ever written and released, as the album deals with the harrowing aftermath of Wilson’s experience as a victim of sexual assault. Sonically centered around a Prophet 6 analog synthesizer, the album reportedly finds Wilson seeking to divest herself from the recurrent trauma of her attack. As Wilson says in a statement she wrote, found in press notes:

“This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
In so many ways.
At first, I actually didn’t know if I even wanted to go on with music anymore.
Then, something terrible happened to me.

I ended up at a crossroads.
Either silent  –  or speaking.
It was not an easy choice.

I didn’t want to talk.
I didn’t manage to talk.

But I had to talk.

Not to bring justice or to take revenge.
Nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

I wanted to take back what I’d lost.
I had to get rid of what was hurting me.”

EXORCISM’s second single “LO HI” is an uncompromisingly honest and confessional account of her sexual assault, including the confusing array of terror, shame, regret and anxiety she felt during her assault and in its aftermath — paired with a propulsive, dance floor friendly production featuring thumping beats, arpeggiated synths and infectious hooks, making the song an unsettlingly ironic amalgam of vibrant and thoughtful electro pop centered around unspeakable, powerless horrors that straight cis men rarely could comprehend — or even have knowledge of. 

The recently released video for “Lo Hi” features a mix of strobe-lit footage of Jenny, of footage of someone being chased and graphic animation-based sequences used to an uncomfortable and unsettling effect emphasizing the sense of  unending and inescapable terror that it’s creator and narrator are desperately trying to escape. 

Adrian Underhill is a Vancouver, British Columbia-born, Toronto, Ontario-based singer/songwriter, who has a number of stints in indie rock bands in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, before the low-key release of his solo debut EP in 2012; however, sometime after that, Underhill completely revamped his songwriting process, employing keyboards, synths and drum machines, which found him gravitating towards a slinky R&B-inspired pop sound but paired with a simple and very direct, earnest lyricism.

Describing the writing process for forthcoming album, CU Again, Underhill says “I sat with a keyboard and one drum machine and tried not play much with production ideas. The tunes have a classic, 70s songwriter vibe, even though we ultimately pushed the production into a very different realm. This simple, direct way of songwriting is me at my best.”

The recording sessions for CU Again found the up-and-coming Canadian singer/songwriter collaborating with British electronic production Kindness (also known as Adam Bainbridge), best known for his work with Robyn, Solange and Blood Orange with the renowned producer and Underhill working on electronic elements in Montreal before they went to Los Angeles for at three-day session with a live, funk supergroup that included JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk (drums) Keith Eaddy (bass) and Brandon Coleman (keys). And the end result finds the material being a seamless blend of Kindness’ electronic production with warm, organic instrumentation as you’ll hear on CU Again‘s swooning “Weather,” which pairs a looped and chopped keyboard sample with stuttering and skittering drum programming, arpeggiated synths and Underhill’s plaintive vocals singing lyrics on how time changes people and their moods, like the weather.  What makes the song interesting to me is that it walks a careful tightrope between sincerity and playfulness, familiarity and complete strangeness.
As Underhill adds, “On ‘Weather’, I love how the production came out. Adam (Bainbridge) took my original demo and just kinda warped it and morphed it, almost like a remix, adding new drums and changing the keyboard sounds I had played. Then we added the live piano and synth bass from Brandon Coleman (Kamasi Washington) and Keith Eaddy (DāM-FunK). In the end it’s quite playful and strange – it’s a great combination of sounds.”

If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across several posts on Umea, Sweden-born and based, singer/songwriter and cellist  Cajsa Siik. And with the release of her debut single “Was I Supposed To,” which was then promptly followed by her full-length debut Contra and a batch of attention grabbing singles through 2015, Siik received attention both nationally and internationally while cementing herself as one of her country’s standout artists, drawing comparisons to contemporary, Scandinavian pop artists Lyyke Li and Robyn.

Siik’s third full-length effort DOMINO is slated for a June 2, 2017 release through Birds Will Sing For You Records, and the effort, which was produced by Rolf Plinth will feature guest spots from Phoenix‘s and Deportees‘ Thomas Hedlund and Tiger Lou’s Rasmus Kellerman, both of whom contributed to the jangling and shuffling  album single “Talk To Trees.” And what made that single particularly interesting to me was the fact that it reveled a new direction for the internationally renowned singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, with its sound being simultaneously intimate and bold, yet swooningly anthemic and spacious enough for Siik’s effortlessly gorgeous and tender vocals. While the song may be one of Siik’s shorter songs — it clocks in at 2:40 — the song and its narrator seem haunted by a messy yet fully-lived in past; but while suggesting that life is about closing your eyes and taking a chance — even if it may backfire.

DOMINO‘s latest single “White Noise” is a dramatic track that features four-on-the-floor drumming, blasts of shimmering guitar, and atmospheric synths which give the song an art pop sheen while Siik’s vocals and uncanny ability to write an infectious and soaring hook gives the song a pop-leaning accessibility.  In press notes, Siik explained that, DOMINO can be described in two different ways. First I wanted it to represent the fact that we’re all connected to each other and that we have a responsibility towards each other and this world. To shoulder that responsibility is easier said than done, but we must try. Be aware. Not only mind our own business. I’ve given that a lot of thought lately. Secondly, every song on this album depends and relies on the other. Together they create a unit and the unit is supposed to be diverse. I aimed for creating a dynamic album.” Interestingly, when you hear the newest single in relation to its preceding single “Talk To Trees” there’s a sense of Siik and her collaborators creating a deeply unified mood and vision while speaking of experiences and feelings — in particular about love and longing with a hard-fought deeply adult wisdom and confidence.

Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past couple of years — especially over the course of 2014 and 2015 — you would have come across a handful of posts on Umea, Sweden-born and based, singer/songwriter, cellist and JOVM mainstay artist Cajsa Siik. With the release of her debut single “Was I Supposed To” her full-length effort Contra and a batch of attention grabbing singles through 2015, Siik received attention both nationally and internationally while cementing herself as one of her country’s standout artists, drawing comparisons to contemporary, Scandinavian pop artists Lyyke Li and Robyn.

Over the past couple of years, Siik has been extremely busy working on her third full-length effort DOMINO. Produced by Rolf Klinth, the Umea, Sweden-based artist’s forthcoming effort features guest spots from Phoenix‘s and Deportees‘ Thomas Hedlund and Tiger Lou’s Rasmus Kellerman — and interestingly, both Hedlund and Kellerman appear on DOMINO’s jangling and shuffling first single “Talk To Trees,” a single that reveals a sound that manages to been simultaneously intimate and bold, yet swooningly anthemic and spacious enough for Siik’s effortlessly gorgeous and tender vocals. Clocking at 2:40, the song and its narrator seem haunted by a messy yet lived in past; but while suggesting that life is about closing your eyes and taking a chance — even if it may backfire.