mandag 31. oktober 2011

Listen to a piece of new Marit Larsen music here

Friday November 18th is the release date for the eagerly awaited third Marit Larsen album, Spark. Here's a clip from the recording sessions featuring a large portion of the song "What If", a song which sounds truly awesome. First single "Coming Home" was first heard a few weeks ago, and "What If" sounds even better. This is gonna be good!

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The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?

Happy birthday to former The Smiths guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr who's 48 today! Here's one of his greatest performances in the guise of "How Soon Is Now?", originally the B-side to 1984 single "William, It Was Really Nothing" and promoted to A-side status the next year after gaining momentum on its own as it was featured both on the Hatful Of Hollow compilation and the Australian and American editions of the Meat Is Murder album. The video unfortunately accompanies the three and a half minute edit of the song that clocks in at 6:46 in its full version. Still, you get the idea of how expressive it is, when you instantly hear Marr's oscillating reverbed guitar effect, a riff that runs on throughout the song and sounds like a Bo Diddley riff from beyond the grave or something. Amazing stuff!

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U2 - The Fly

Happy 50th birthday to U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr.! The last few days I've read several reviews of the anniversary editions of Achtung Baby that were released this weekend saying things along the line of U2 not being as relevant as they once were, as "evidenced" by the relative commercial failure of their last album, 2009's No Line On The Horizon. That may be so, but how many bands can be expected to totally reinvent themselves - more than once - like U2 did with Achtung Baby in 1991? They actually did something similar both in 1984 with The Unforgettable Fire and even more so with 1987's The Joshua Tree. That they didn't succeed quite as much with 1997's Pop album is true, but if nothing else their last few albums show a will and an ability to keep moving forward and doing what they can as good as possible. The fact that they're the world's highest grossing live act is probably as much due to their megalomaniac stage set-ups as anything else, but a U2 show IS cool. Anyway, here's "The Fly" off Achtung Baby, and once more, happy birthday, Larry!

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Robert Post - Landing

Here's a brand new song off Norwegian singer/songwriter Robert Post's second album Rhetoric, to be released this Friday. As expected we're talking lovely Beatles-style pop music, with a slight country twist, not least due to the wonderful violin as played by Lise Voldsdal. No complaints about this one then!

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Danny Wilson - Mary's Prayer

Here's one of my all-time favourite pop songs. The Scottish trio Danny Wilson, consisting of brothers Gary and Kit Clark and their friend Ged Grimes, initially called themselves Spencer Tracy, but after protests from the dead actor's estate changed their name to Danny Wilson, as in the 1952 Frank Sinatra film Meet Danny Wilson. Their first single "Mary's Prayer" was released in 1987 and also featured on the debut album that of course had to be called Meet Danny Wilson. The single initially didn't make much of a stir, but eventually became a Top 30 hit in USA, which in turn led to a British re-release that took the song to number 3 in the charts in 1988. It's just a really sweet and incredibly catchy song. Love!

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Boston - More Than A Feeling

Boston's monster hit "More Than A Feeling" from their self-titled 1976 debut is the epitome of what's become known as "classic rock". It's a melodic pop song wrapped in an arrangement full of playfulness and bombast, alternating between acoustic and electric effects, as pompous as hell and twice as fun. There's nothing not to like about this song, if you ask me!

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søndag 30. oktober 2011

Associates - Breakfast

Is this the most magical performance Billy Mackenzie ever delivered? "Breakfast" off the 1985 album Perhaps gets me every time I hear it with its utter beauty. It's a haunting piano ballad, where Mackenzie's out of this world-voice is at its most magical. His delivery is absolutely faultless and it's hard to keep the eyes dry upon hearing it really, especially when thinking about the fact that he took his own life some 13 years later. That's such a shame! "Breakfast" is among the most beautiful ballads of the 80's.

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Billy Paul - Me And Mrs. Jones

"Me And Mrs. Jones" is a classic soul ballad from 1972 that has secured Billy Paul's name in the pantheon of popular music for all time. It was written by the legendary songwriting duo of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and is a song about an extramarital affair between the protagonist and a "Mrs. Jones". It was a huge hit around the world and a number one single on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart, a feat Billy Paul never was close to repeating.


Thåström - The Haters

Joakim Thåström is a Swedish singer, songwriter and musician known from the punk band Ebba Grön and later the rock outfit Imperiet. Today he's a successful and well-respected solo performer. "The Haters" is a song in which he reminisces about his early days forming the band The Haters that gives the song its title. The band apparently changed its name to Ebba Grön after only three days, and the rest, as they say, is history. The song is lifted from Thåström's 2005 album Skebokvarnsv. 209, named after the adress of the house where he grew up in the Stockholm suburb Högdalen.


Neil Young - See The Sky About To Rain

"See The Sky About To Rain" is a Harvest era Neil Young ballad which first appeared on his 1974 album On The Beach. It would have fit perfectly on the successful 1972 Harvest album, but for some reason didn't make the cut. The Byrds however, recorded it for their eponymous 1973 album, and as far as I know that was the first version to be released on record. Here's Neil though, and it's a very pretty song. Hope you like it.


Chicago - If You Leave Me Now

This is surely a guilty pleasure for more people than I. Chicago's 1976 single "If You Leave Me Now" was one of the first singles I bought, and I still love the song dearly. It's softer than anything you're ever likely to hear with Peter Cetera's falsetto voice eclipsing those of the Gibb brothers. A very, very good, well-written, beautifully arranged love song, a ballad for the ages, by a band I otherwise find incredibly boring.

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James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

"Sweet Baby James" is James Taylor at his absolute best. Mysteriously this title track off his 1970 breakthrough album was never released as a single, but it's still - understandably - one of his best known and most revered songs. It's a deliberate cross between a lullaby and a cowboy song, describing his trip to meet his newborn nephew James, son of his older brother Alex, for the first time. Taylor has later claimed he spent considerable time writing the lyrics to this one, whose verses used the most intricate rhyming pattern of his career. It's simply a stunning song in every aspect, as beautiful as they come.

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fredag 28. oktober 2011

R.E.M. - We All Go Back To Where We Belong

"I dreamt that we were elephants", sings Michael Stipe on R.E.M.'s final, wonderful single "We All Go Back To Where We Belong". It's a beautiful line, and the song is a perfect swansong for the band upon their decision to call it quits after 30 years of making great music. In two weeks Warner will release the double CD compilation Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011 where this song is one of three newly recorded tracks. "We All Go Back To Where We Belong" could almost be a Burt Bacharach ballad with its light Herb Alpert-y string and horn arrangement. They have made two different music videos for the song, one featuring actress Kirsten Dunst, the other poet and performance artist John Giorno, where they each simply show different facial expressions, shot in black and white. Beautiful stuff and a very fine farewell indeed!

Kirsten Dunst version

Johg Giorno version

Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders - The Game Of Love

Happy 66th to the one and only Wayne Fontana, known to his mother as Glyn Geoffrey Ellis. The Mancunian pop star had his biggest hit with "The Game Of Love" in 1965 fronting what was essentially his backing band, The Mindbenders. It's a fantastic song, reminiscent of The Kinks or The Animals. His subsequent solo career didn't fare that well, and in a few years time Fontana was largely forgotten by the greater public, apart from this single that remains a classic and from time to time pops up on 60's compilations. However, the story of Wayne Fontana has a dramatic coda. When in 2005 he fought off bankruptcy he poured petrol on a car and ignited it with a bailiff inside. He appeared in the court dressed as a lady of justice, with a sword, scales, crown, cape and dark glasses, claiming "justice is blind". He was sentenced to 11 months for setting fire to the car but was released because he had already served the equivalent of the term held under the Mental Health Act of 1983. Way to go, Wayne! And again, happy birthday!

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Siri Nilsen - Alle snakker sant

Siri Nilsen is the daughter of famous Norwegian troubadour Lillebjørn Nilsen. Dad is suffering from writer's block and hasn't written anything new in almost 20 years, but he's paid his dues and then some, having written scores of classics from his - and mine - native Oslo. But if Lillebjørn is suffering from writer's block, his offspring certainly isn't. Two years ago she released her debut album Vi som ser i mørket (We who are able to see in the dark), and in two weeks she'll release the follow-up, Alle snakker sant (Everyone's telling the truth). Here's the beautiful title track and first single in an early, acoustic solo version. Siri has a knack for a great melody and a truly captivating voice that draws you into her songs and keeps you there for the duration of them. For those of you that struggle with Norwegian, I hope you appreciate the song nevertheless.

torsdag 27. oktober 2011

The Colour Field - Castles In The Air

After disbanding Fun Boy Three, former The Specials singer Terry Hall went on to form his third outfit, The Colour Field. They released their first, excellent album called Virgins And Philistines in 1985, and their disappointing second and final album Deception in 1987. "Castles In The Air" is from Virgins..., and is one of their finest songs, a beautiful uptempo ballad that fuses pop music and bossa nova to great effect. A true classic!

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Duran Duran - Leave A Light On

Happy birthday, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran fame, 53 years old today. There have been a few ups and downs for his band after their 80's heydey, but last year Duran Duran returned with a really good album, produced by longtime fan Mark Ronson who wanted the boys to record a proper follow-up to 1982's Rio. They accomplished an impressive album called All You Need Is Now, and "Leave A Light On" is the best song, a kind of musical sibling to the classic "Save A Prayer".


onsdag 26. oktober 2011

Flowers And Sea Creatures - A.M. (Ewan Pearson Edit)

My current favourite album is the self-titled debut from Montreal electronica duo Flowers And Sea Creatures. It's a stunningly beautiful and highly atmospheric album, painting a nocturnal urban landscape with what the record label describes as "Graham Baxter's idiosyncratic voice (that) soars over acoustic guitars and an undertow of buzzy synth drones from partner Kosta Megalos". However you want to describe it, this is very accessible music, difficult not to fall in love with. Here's "A.M.", one of the album's stand-out tracks, in an edit courtesy of British producer Ewan Pearson. By the way, the record label in question is Buzzin' Fly, owned and operated by Ben Watt, also known as the male half of Everything But The Girl, and the album is the female half Tracey Thorn's favourite of the year apparently. Let's say they have good taste.


torsdag 20. oktober 2011

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Don't Come Around Here No More

Happy birthday to Tom Petty, 61 years old today! One of the most prolific rock acts of the last 35 years, Petty has mostly been backed by his incredible band The Heartbreakers, which is also the case here. "Don't Come Around Here No More" was the first single to be lifted from the 1985 album Southern Accents. It's a co-write between Petty and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, a guy who's been getting a lot more bad lip than he deserves. Say what you will about Stewart, but he's the perfect sidekick. The video to "Don't Come Around Here No More" is also a classic with its "Alice in Wonderland" imagery.

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Wanda Jackson - Thunder On The Mountain

Happy birthday to the one and only Wanda Jackson who's 74 today. It has to be said, old ladies do not get any cooler than this. With the help of producer Jack White and a team of young musicians, the "Queen Of Rockabilly", Wanda Jackson, returned to the limelight this January with the release of The Party Ain't Over, her first album in five years. It was spearheaded by this rollicking take on Bob Dylan's fabulous "Thunder On The Mountain", and it's actually pretty much tuff enuff to literally move mountains. It's a wild ride courtesy of the excellent band, and this small creature doing what she does best, singing her heart out! Take it away!

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