torsdag 31. juli 2014

31072014 - Thulsa Doom "Keyboard, Oh Lord! Why Don't We?"

This is another album I really have no good reason for not knowing by heart - or even listening to all the way through. Of course, the fantabulous "Tears in the Morning" is easily one of the best Norwegian songs written ever, in any musical category, and the rest of the album very nearly equals the brilliance of that song. This is, of course, the sound of a band near the end of a cycle, but as long as every song has that little extra sumpin' sumpin' I do believe it's all good…


onsdag 30. juli 2014

30072014 - Oz "III Warning"

What can I say? Pure unashamed wonderful Finnish heavy metal from 1984 that might possibly sound even better today when seen in perspective than it did 30 years ago! This is pure joy and all eight songs are anthems! If you say this sounds dated you might as well say you denounce metal. You get songs like "Runner", "Crucified" and "Too Bad to Be True" and, not least, the Anvil-ish finishing track, "Total Metal", whose title says it all. This is the kind go record that loads of bands still try to do today, but none will ever manage to.

tirsdag 29. juli 2014

29072014 - Frankie Miller "Falling in Love"

One of those artists that tend to be forgotten, but whose songwriting (and singing) goes beyond the cliched pleasantness of a song like "Darlin'" (which, of course, made it to #1 on the Norwegian singles chart). With his raspy voice and occasionally sentimental delivery it's easy to dismiss Miller as another love ballad monger, but anyone who can remove the reggae completely from Bob Marley's "Is This Love" deserves some more credit. His connections to Brinsley Schwarz, Thin Lizzy and Robin Trower should also be a sign to people that there's more to Miller than just the schmaltz, but then again - songs like "Good to See You" are just that. Still good though!

mandag 28. juli 2014

28072014 - Cocteau Twins "Blue Bell Knoll"

I don't know why I never ended up checking out Cocteau Twins way back when (sorry Simon!), but there it is. After all, they were on 4AD, one of my favorite record labels, and it's not like I had to have the serrated guitars of Pixies and The Breeders (or even the rather less abrasive, but no less prominent ones of Throwing Muses and Lush) - after all, there was always Dead Can Dance. And listening now I know for a fact that I would have fallen totally in love with songs like "Carolyn's Fingers" and "For Phoebe Still a Baby" had I heard them back in 1988 when this album was released. Oh well, better late than never. Because here I am, more than a quarter of a century later, and this is me falling in love with those very songs right now. This is where dream pop started, and I'll wager that The Cure listened to this album while making "Disintegration" as well! I will now dive into the rest of the back catalogue...

søndag 27. juli 2014

27072014 - Roger McGuinn "Cardiff Rose"

There's a lot I don't know about Roger McGuinn's solo career, and this album is one I had not heard. I think I like it, but it's a bit strange hearing the Byrds frontman emulate Joe Strummer on "Rock And Roll Time". His pirate shanty on the track "Jolly Roger" also takes a bit of getting used to. "Friend" is more classic McGuinn, and a gorgeous lament to boot, fiddle and all. It would be a lie to say I'm in love with all the songs here, but when he's good he's great!

lørdag 26. juli 2014

26072014 - Carmen Villain "Sleeper"

No points for guessing I stumbled across this one as well while searching for Sleeper (and finding a different Sleeper). It would seem that I should have discovered her before, as this album, released last year, got quite a bit of attention. This is not surprising, considering that a) Carmen Villain aka Carmen Hillestad is also a model, which is always popular in the press, b) this album is released on Smalltown Supersound, a fave amongst the music press and c) this is the kind of shoe-fi/lo-gaze with references to Sonic Underground that you lose your creed card if you don't at least find interesting enough to form an opinion about. My opinion is that this is kinda cool, but not fantastic. There's more a feeling of coolness here than songs that grab my attention, but of course, as this is written after (well, actually during) my first listen of the album, this might very well be a grower. Will I ever find out? Well, we're just gonna have to wait and see…

fredag 25. juli 2014

25072014 - Heavy Tiger "Saigon Kiss"

Heavy Tiger - they had me at "Heavy Tiger"! This power trio from Stockholm Rock City are influenced by KISS, Thin Lizzy and probably their Swedish countrymen in The Hellacopters and Backyard Babies, and they wear these influences proudly without ending up as copykittens. Nope - these female felines have earned their stripes by gigging all over the place (at least in Scandinavia) since 2010, and now, four years later, they have all turned 21 and released their debut album. And although they offer nothing you would call new, the nine songs on "Saigon Kiss" are all catchy as hell with hooks as sharp as the claws of the tiger they have named themselves after. I bet they sound even better live, roaring more then they purr, and as long as they have songs like "Girls Got Balls" that sounds like The Runaways playing something from "Hotter Than Hell" with a little AC/DC thrown in to boot, I'm happy!

torsdag 24. juli 2014

24072014 - Sleeper "Sleeper"

So here I am, trying to find out if there's anything I have missed out on from 90's British pop sensations Sleeper, the band fronted by the both ear and eye pleasing Louise Wener, and all of a sudden there's this. Apparently this Sleeper was a one man project, and the man behind it is a Mr. Paul Olsen from Laguna Beach. And while nothing at all like the band I was looking for, this was a pleasant surprise, with its laid-back dreamy pop that was apparently written in the backseat of his car whilst traveling through California. While writing this I have learned that Sleeper is now a proper band, and I wouldn't be surprised if fans of some of today's hipster faves and raves discover them really soon, but at least now I can claim to have been first. Here's looking forward to saying how much better they were back when "they" were just "he"… But really - it's lovely!

onsdag 23. juli 2014

23072014 - Screeching Weasel "Bark Like a Dog"

This band has always been there and I have been aware of them, but I never got around to give them more than a brief listen. So now was the time to check out their particular brand of pop punk, and when I say "their" particular brand I mean The Ramones' particular brand as interpreted or paid tribute to by Screeching Weasel. It's no surprise to learn that these guys once covered an entire Ramones album, and although I don't see any reason to sit through a Ramones record played by any other band than Da Bruddas themselves I see how this would be the right band to record such a thing. I might even want to see them do it live. As you can probably tell, originality is not high on the Weasel's list of priorities, but catchiness most certainly is, and they adhere to a strict "don't bore us, get to the chorus" regimen which totally works. This album consists of 12 instantly singalong-able songs, none of which are likely to stick in your memory very long after the album is finished, but all are perfectly fun additions to any summertime punk soundtrack.

tirsdag 22. juli 2014

22072014 - Jim Sullivan "U.F.O."

This album was released in 1969, six years before Jim Sullivan himself got abducted by aliens. Or so the story goes. What we do know is that Sullivan disappeared without a trace in New Mexico, his car abandoned, his guitar, clothes and wallet still in his motel room and his music mostly ignored by a bigger audience. The fact that he was a friend of luminaries like Harry Dean Stanton, had performed on the José Feliciano Show and had a cameo role in Easy Rider adds to the enigma, but the fact that Phil Spector's legendary Wrecking Crew are his musicians on this record should tell you that we're talking quality stuff! And yes indeed, comparisons with Fred Neil and Joe South serve him justice, and both singer and songs here are at least as captivating as the story of the man that never discovered success, but himself ended up as a part of a near mythological tale that also includes a local mafia connected family, a retired sheriff moving to Hawaii and talks with his own manager about walking into the desert never to return. If the story is incredible, thankfully so is the music. And the biggest mystery remains why he never made the big time!

mandag 21. juli 2014

21072014 - Honeyblood "Honeyblood"

Who the hell are Honeyblood, you say? Whale oil beef hooked if I know, but they hail from the city of Glasgow and manage to remind me of both Neko Case and bands like Lush, Sleeper, Echobelly and The Darling Buds, so in my book they are off to a good start. And the songs are on the right side of infectious: very catchy, but never annoyingly so. The guitars are charmingly distorted, but the music is constantly pop and the vocals (which is where the main part of the Neko Case comparison comes in) have the right amount of harmonies, but never aspire to emulating First Aid Kit or (thematically closer) The Murmurs. Yeah, I bet you had forgotten about those two. You know what? Go on and YouTube their hit right now. This album is still gonna be here after you're done, and you should check it out!

søndag 20. juli 2014

20072014 - John Hiatt "Terms of My Surrender"

Whenever Mr. John Hiatt has a new album out it's time to be happy and prepare to hear some proper good music. This time is no exception, as "Terms of My Surrender" is filled with some of the best songs you're likely to hear this year. As always it's pretty unassuming and unpretentious stuff, but who needs airs and graces when you have brilliant and intelligent songwriting? And that's where Hiatt has always excelled, writing and performing ditties like "Wind Don't Have to Hurry", "Baby's Gonna Kick" or the title track, that might not force themselves down your throat, but rather put their arms warmly around you and give you the same comfort you get from an old friend. "Here to Stay" is soul dripping blues and "Old People" has a gentle humor that makes it the nice cousin of Randy Newman's "Short People". Good to hear from you again, John - you're always welcome!

lørdag 19. juli 2014

19072014 - Chacka Khan "I Feel for You"

The title track of this album should be familiar to everybody, but even though it remains her best selling solo album I have yet to hear the other songs on this disc. Opener "This Is My Night" was a single and reached #1 on the US Dance Chart, and it's easy to hear why as it sounds totally cutting edge and contemporary…for 1984. "Stronger Than Before" is a semi ballad, and the same goes there - perfect for 1984, not so relevant 30 years later. "My Love Is Alive" and "Eye to Eye"… uptempo, and same thing there. "La Flamme" is a funky thing with some samples and stuff, but jeez - even a pretty catchy chorus can't save the poor thing. I guess "I Feel for You" itself opened side two of the original LP, but on CD (or streaming services) it's just stuck in the middle of a whole lot of mostly outdated stuff. OK, the David Foster penned soul ballad "Through the Fire" actually works pretty well, but that's it. So there - "I Feel for You": classic song, horribly outdated album.

fredag 18. juli 2014

18072014 - Lone Justice "This Is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes, 1983"

A simply lovely collection of songs by the most excellent band Lone Justice, recorded before their superb 1985 debut album! Led by the unfairly overlooked genius that is Maria McKee, a true angel among the songbirds of this planet, this band had deserved to be multi million sellers, but that never happened. This album shows a rawness and edge that surpasses even their first album and is a fine document of the way they were, but none of the songs here are better than, say, "East of Eden" or "Ways to Be Wicked" from the debut. If you love Ms. McKee you should definitely own this, but you would fare just as well getting her more recent solo stuff, such as "Peddlin' Dreams" or "Late December", as well as the two "proper" Lone Justice albums, both of which are wonderful, each in its own way!

torsdag 17. juli 2014

17072014 - Army Navy "The Wilderness Inside"

Someone said this was power pop, and I really like power pop. The first song, "In Waves", however, has quite a bit more rain than sunshine, considering what I had expected. It's not really bad, and there's a Teenage Fanclub/Lightning Seeds-ish quality to some of the songs, but I'm not falling head over heels in love either, apart from with the song "World's End". And the fact that they also remind me of that British band with that vegan douchebag who shall not be named on my freaking blog, doesn't do them any favors whatsoever. In my book, life's too short for albums that make me yawn, so let's do the pun thing instead: "Army Navy? More like Ar-meh Maybe!"

onsdag 16. juli 2014

16072014 - Bic Runga "Belle"

When I first heard Bic Runga back in 1997, light and airy, not to mention very radio friendly, pop music was the order of the day. She still hasn't gone "Jazz Odyssey" on us, but on her fourth and so far latest album, "Belle" from 2001, there's a bit more depth as well. She still looks and sounds as elfin as ever, but her songs veer from Lenny Kravitz era Vanessa Paradise via Saint Etienne-isms to songs that have just a tiny amount of dream pop in them, without going all Beach House on us. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Without having heard her third album, "Birds", it's hard to tell whether the transition between the relatively streamlined radio pop of the two first records and the slightly more introvert and experimental (and I use both terms VERY loosely - Swans this is not!) songs on "Belle" came suddenly or if there were any signs of this coming. This is her first album not to reach #1 in her native New Zealand though, so apparently the music here went over people's heads (insert Hobbit joke here) to a certain extent. This is a gorgeous album anyway, and highly recommended for when you want something very light and sweet.

tirsdag 15. juli 2014

15072014 - Wake "Leeches"

I was actually looking for the Little Rock, Arkansas band Rwake, but found these noiseniks from Calgary instead. They deliver assaulting hardcore punk with grind elements, and are sure to wake you up, pardon the pun. Most tracks stay safely below the two minute mark, but they also have a couple of songs that close in on three minutes. One of these, the album's title track, boasts a menacingly heavy riff, but still manages to incorporate some blasting drums when needed. The vocals are probably the most hardcore part of the band, and should delight any fan of the genre. At first listen some of the faster and shorter tracks go by a bit too quickly to make an imprint, but it's still easy to tell that there is plenty of variation within the confines of what they do. Tracks like "The Means to the End" are both brutal and heavy, something not all fast bands manage, and by the relatively melodic end of the album you even find yourself wanting to come back for seconds!

mandag 14. juli 2014

14072014 - Ruby Red & the Moonshine Brothers "Ruby Red & the Moonshine Brothers"

There seems to be a whole lot of really good Norwegian country and roots music coming out these days, and this is another little treasure. From the opening track, "It's Gonna Be Alright", Marte "Ruby Red" Herwell's lilting semi-Linda Ronstadt-y voice takes aim for the heart, but with a detour through the face, making sure it's all smiles. The band consists of a married couple, two siblings (brother and sister) and two guys named Mats, which is all well and good, and they are all very young. Early twenties young! So how come they make it sound as if they hail from he heart of the Appalachians and have been doing this for years? They make it sound so effortless, and although they sneak in a little (unintentional?) Beatles here and some Norwegian folk fiddle there, on the whole this sounds authentically American. They also have some really funny and pretty dark lyrics, such as on the hilarious cautionary tale "When the Whole Mess Began" which has gambling, death and a gritty guitar on the menu. Other songs, like the gorgeous "Sophie", are more melancholy and slightly tearful, but they balance these contrasts with elegance and ease. Highly recommended!

søndag 13. juli 2014

13072014 - Charlie Haden "Nocturne"

Charlie Haden just left us. This album from 2001, featuring, amongst others, Joe Lovano, David Sanchez and Pat Metheny, is a beautiful soundtrack to the summer sunset.

lørdag 12. juli 2014

12072014 - The Titty Twisters Orchestra "Deluxe Lingerie Only... Please"

Finding any information at all about this band has not been easy, but here's what I know: They are German. They are called The Titty Twisters Orchestra.  This album has a really cool title, and I probably spent more time than necessary doing research on the band just because I googled that title. They have done a cover of "You Spin Me Round", but that song is not on this album. Here's what I assume, and choose to present as facts: They are film buffs, and one of their favorite movies is "From Dusk Till Dawn" (a dead giveaway with that band name). They are also pretty fond of "Ghost World" (they have covered Mohammad Rafi's "Jaan Pehechaan Ho", which could mean that they are heavily into Indian music, but as the song is kind of crucial to that movie, and it all fits in with the concept, I Sherlock Holmesed myself into going with the movie theory). They are a blast live (They gotta be). This album sounds precisely like what you would expect an album from a band called The Titty Twisters Orchestra was going to sound like, so remember how the saying goes: when life gives you lemons, get some salt and tequila, and put on a record by The Titty Twisters Orchestra!

fredag 11. juli 2014

11072014 - Cornershop "Cornershop and the Double-o Groove of - featuring Bubbley Kaur"

Yes, Cornershop had "Brimful of Asha". Get over it. If anything, get into the lyrics of that song, go beyond the "bosom for a pillow" thing, and check out all that greatness they namecheck: Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammad Rafi... Because that is the place Cornershop went to on this album, not least thanks to Bubbley Kaur, who could easily have been an apprentice of one of those Bollywood legends, but who apparently had never recorded anything before. She was, in fact, raised in Lancashire, and recommended to the band by a London cab driver! On this album she does all the vocals, letting our friend Tjinder Singh remain songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist. And the songs here are exceptionally good! Combining a love for Indian, particularly Punjabi, music and a whole lot of other rhythms, they manage to show respect to the traditionalist movement (at least a little bit) while keeping it interesting for... just about everybody with a passion for good songs! If I get some Handsome Boy Modeling School vibes along the way, that's not negative at all. Pure genius - will be played to death!

torsdag 10. juli 2014

10072014 - João Gilberto "João Voz E Violão"

This is perfect listening in the summer heat. Soft and soothing samba tunes that deliver exactly what it says on the tin: a warm voice and a gentle acoustic guitar, both courtesy of Gilberto himself. This is as low key and unpretentious as one would imagine, and all the better for it. This album was released in 2000, and although his voice has obviously aged since his immortal albums with Stan Getz, it has done so gracefully. His recording of "Desafinado" on this album, which is also on the now 50 years old "Getz/Gilberto" album, showcases a singer who, although close to 70 at the time, never sounds old. Caetano Veloso's spartan production highlights this and is another proof of why these recordings never needed a grand orchestra or layers upon layers of multitracked instruments of any kind. Lovely!

onsdag 9. juli 2014

09072014 - Richard Marx "Beautiful Goodbye"

Yes. Him. He of "Hazard", "Right Here Waiting" and "Angelia". I always knew this was going to be extremely soft, but this is like a whisper in a room full of feathers. It's like that tiny hint of a breeze on the hottest day of the year, which is slightly pleasant but not really refreshing. Don't misunderstand me, I find myself enjoying this, but if you're hungry for steak this is a light salad with very little meat. However, if you're in the mood for an album that's barely even there, but somehow still pleases the senses, this is it. You know, when you go for a dip on a scorching hot day and the water is so warm it doesn't cool you, but you enjoy the feel of it anyway, get my drift? Because I've got loads of these. It's got less edge than a ball of chinchilla fur, and is at least as soft. Even the hooks on these songs are so polished they are unlikely to get you hooked unless you really want to. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when soft rock wants to relax, lie down, get a massage and a pedicure and chill by the poolside with a white wine spritzer. It's still got better love stories than "Twilight", though...

tirsdag 8. juli 2014

08072014 - Manic Street Preachers "Futurology"

Manic Street preachers were once a band that could do no wrong in my eyes (or ears). From the first riff of the first song on the first album they captured me completely, and with each new release they had developed - matured if you will - along with me, delivering three perfect records, experiencing tragedy when they lost Richey, but bouncing back and coming up with two more great ones. Hell, during those first three years even their single b-sides were brilliant! But after "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours", something changed. They kept releasing records at a steady pace, but these were disappointing as often as not, and some were even just ok. So which will it be this time? Well, after the first listen I must honestly say that I'm not sure. I'm inclined to say that I like it, and there's certainly coolness in songs like "Europa Geht Durch Mich" and "Let's Go To War". Not so sure about "Divine Youth", a slightly too sugar sweet duet with Welsh harpist/vocalist Georgia Ruth Williams - one of several guests on "Futurology". "Sex, Love, Power and Money" seems like more empty sloganism, albeit with a pretty decent chorus. And what that pointless instrumental is doing here I don't know, but I'm sure there's a skydiving video somewhere waiting for it. I'm also sure having Green Gartside from Scritti Politti on one of the songs must have been a hoot, but it doesn't add anything to the album. There are some tunes here that might grow on me, but Nicky Wire's claim that this is "The Holy Bible"'s bedfellow is nowhere near justified!


mandag 7. juli 2014

07072014 - Atomic Rooster "Death Walks Behind You"

I have never listened to Atomic Rooster before. I'm sure that's considered a sin, but there you go - I'm listening now! And according to those in the know this is the album to start on, so here we go. I dig the title track, which opens the album! Heavy, moody, dark and cool! When they go all proggy during some of the songs I am more than able to contain my enthusiasm, but mostly they stay on the right side of widdly-widdly. I'm sure loads of you folks think their escapades beyond the 4/4 perimeter is what makes the band interesting, but I prefer the heavy rock bits to the jazz meanderings any day of the week and twice on Mondays!

søndag 6. juli 2014

06072014 - Foreigner "Inside Information"

"Say You Will" was a massive hit, and remains a classic. Still it's taken me until now to hear the rest of the album. It's typical 80's Foreigner, but compared to their previous releases from the same decade this is a bit disappointing. Lou Gramm's singing is the highlight of the record, but the production is a tad too slick for its own good and about half of the songs aren't really as great as they should be. In addition to the aforementioned single, opener "Heart Turns to Stone" and "I Don't Want to Live Without You" are standouts, but there's no reason why I would want to listen to this album over and over instead of "4" or "Agent Provocateur". Fun fact: this album charted higher in Norway (#5) than in any other country! Not that we should read anything into that...

lørdag 5. juli 2014

05072014 - Bacchus Baracus "Tales of Worries, Woe and Whatever"

Stoner/psych metal with growling vocals. It's been done before, but when the songs are good enough it's an effective combination. And there are some great ones here, like "Yo! Wanna Deal" and "Mammoth". Let's face it - any song where the chorus goes "I am the mammoth! The great wooly mammoth!" is pretty much guaranteed to be to be just awesome! At times it's less inspired, but on the aforementioned songs as well as the closing couple, "Fuck Knows Man" and the 14 minute smorgasbord of psychedeliciousness "Sweet Smell" they are magnificent! I am also childish enough to snigger at the implied fart joke - intentional or not - of the opening track including the word "deal" and the last track including the word "smell" in the title... Farts are funny. While we're at it, I also recommend checking out their 2012 EP "Growler", and not just because of the cover. As if I would ever...

fredag 4. juli 2014

04072014 - Sweet Cream "Sweet Cream & Other Delights"

The cover alone is reason good enough to feature this album. It is, of course, one of many parodies/tributes to Herb Alpert's iconic "Whipped Cream & Other Delights", and there can never be too many of those, right? Right? The music here is pleasant, albeit easily forgettable disco/funk from 1978, a year when Detroit must have had a combo like this on every street corner. They do have some good songs, but it's pretty damn unlikely that many of these will stick in my memory when the record is over. But the album cover...

torsdag 3. juli 2014

03072014 - Edwyn Collins "Understated"

Somehow I missed out on this album when it originally dropped last year, so here's making amends! His previous record, 2010's "Losing Sleep" was a lovely comeback, and as comebacks go one of the generally most impressive! If you don't know what I'm talking about, read his book - easily one of the most touching stories about any musician I have ever read! "Understated" mostly picks up where its predecessor left off, and demonstrates yet again what a brilliant songwriter we didn't lose in Edwyn. "Dilemna" opens with plenty of swagger and "Baby Jean" follows up brilliantly. About halfway through the album sags a little, but I'm still rooting so much for Edwyn that I'm willing to look past that and just simply call this the victory it truly is! There's no huge hit single here, but the one he did have was always just gonna be a fluke. Let's hope he has another one, though. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

onsdag 2. juli 2014

02072014 - Brody Dalle "Diploid Love"

Ah, my old punk rock crush Brody! Cooler than Courtney, and punkier too! The Distillers were genius when I first heard them, and kept the genius up until they kinda lost the plot. Spinnerette I never really got into. My bad? Anyway, Brody's back, and she's packing a punch! The punk remains mostly in the past, but there are some songs on "Diploid Love" that makes me not miss those rowdy days of yore! "Rat Race" opens the ball with balls, "Underworld" showcases Ms. Dalle as a proper Queen of the Stone Age and "Dressed In Dreams" is just a brilliant rock song. Her voice never softened, so there's plenty of grit for us fans of that grit rock, but there's also room for (dare I say it?) sophistication! Not all songs are instant classics, and it's obvious that she wants to experiment a bit more than she probably should have - case in point, "I Don't Need Your Love", where Brody gets broody and, uh, tries out stuff. She finishes on a high note though, and as long as we all can get used to the fact that The Distillers is a thing of the past, this is a step in the right direction, and great things should lie ahead!

tirsdag 1. juli 2014

01072014 - Suicide "Suicide"

One of those bands that I have never taken the time to check out. The opening track, "Ghost Rider", is of course iconic, but then again so is the rest of the album. I can see why this influenced a lot of synth bands, but it's basically more punk than synth pop, and the vocals are pure rock'n'roll! I bet a band like Sigue Sigue Sputnik were huge fans. Now, the five songs that make out the original side 1 on the album are one thing - they are great - but "Frankie Teardrop"... What a song! What pure and desperate rawness! This album should be mandatory listening for everybody!