torsdag 31. oktober 2013

Talk Talk - Such A Shame

Although they were part of the synth-pop era of the early 1980's, British group Talk Talk soon went beyond the predictable. In Mark Hollis they had a fabulous songwriter, in Tim Friese-Greene a truly visionary producer, and by album number two, 1984's It's My Life, they stood out as "different", helped in part by director Tim Pope's curious music videos. "Such A Shame" was the second single released from the album, and it still sounds like nothing else in pop music. It's a great song and a true classic.

Watch and listen


David Bowie - Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA) (video edit)

Last night at the Mercury Awards ceremony, David Bowie premiered his new music video for the James Murphy remix of The Next Day track "Love Is Lost". It's probably the cheapest music video ever recorded by a major artist such as Bowie, as he had his assistant Jimmy King shoot it in a dark corridor of his New York offices with a small video camera that he picked up at home and a few mannequins from his archive. Bowie didn't want "celebrity guests or a flashy production", and it sure doesn't look very flashy either. It looks good though, and although the video version is only just above four minutes long to the original ten minute remix, it's far better than nothing. Cool stuff that further enhances Bowie's impressive comeback.

Watch and listen


Árstíðir - Heyr himna smiður

Árstíðir is an Icelandic group dealing in what their Wikipedia article dubs "indie-folk (...) with classical, progressive rock and minimalist elements" that has released two albums to date. "Heyr himna smiður" is a bit left of center though, as it's an old hymn written by Icelandic chieftain and poet Kolbeinn Tumason in the year 1208. The story about Árstíðir's a capella version is that they were touring Europe and in the German town Wuppertal were to perform in an old train station with perfect acoustics and sang the old hymn on the spot. Not surprisingly, as the performance was filmed, Árstíðir has become somewhat of a YouTube phenomenon with more than 800 000 viewings of "Heyr himna smiður" to date. It's really beautiful, so no surprise there.

Watch and listen


onsdag 30. oktober 2013

Elvira Nikolaisen & Mathias Eick - I Concentrate On You

I Concentrate On You is a collaborative album by singer/songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen and jazz musician Mathias Eick (Jaga Jazzist). The two Norwegian artists were introduced to each other recently and to judge by the album the time was more than ripe for them to work together. The pair have dipped into the great American songbook composed by names like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Arlen/Mercer and Rodgers/Hart and come up with an astonishing 10 track album that is one of the best I've heard all year. It's an absolutely gorgeous record by two musicians (and a few well-chosen friends) who's obviously in love with the material, a record for dark autumn evenings, especially of the romantic kind. The title track, Cole Porter's "I Concentrate On You" is stunning, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Watch and listen


Echo & The Bunnymen - My White Devil

Porcupine, Echo & The Bunnymen's third LP, released in 1983, was somewhat of a disappointment after the aggressiveness of debut album Crocodiles and the atmospheric follow-up, Heaven Up Here, but it did contain a few very good songs. A favourite of mine has always been "My White Devil", with its wonderful xylophone solo. I mean, how many times have you heard that in popular music? It starts at 2:15 and is absolutely gorgeous.



tirsdag 29. oktober 2013

Pet Shop Boys feat. Example - Thursday

The fourth single from Pet Shop Boys' latest album Electric is called "Thursday" and features a break where the British rapper Example (born Elliot John Gleave) comes to the fore. Musically the song starts like a younger sibling to 1987 single "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" before Example takes the mike and does his thing which is a good contrast to Neil Tennant's characteristic vocal delivery and the tune which is in every way another perfect Pet Shop Boys number.

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Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld - A Quiet Life

German musician Blixa Bargeld of Einstürzende Neubeuten and Bad Seeds fame and Italian composer and musician Teho Teardo first worked together on the soundtrack to the film Una vita tranquilla (A Quiet Life) in 2010. This summer they released the collaborative album Still Smiling, a fascinating and adventurous collection of 13 songs, of which one is "A Quiet Life" which I guess is similar to the title song from the movie. Blixa sings both in English, German and Italian on the album that reminds me quite a lot of the works of Tuxedomoon and the solo records of Blaine L. Reininger, and former Virgin Prunes singer Gavin Friday. It's also possible to hear echoes of Leonard Cohen on what is a fabulous album, strange and multifaceted, art as much as it's music.



mandag 28. oktober 2013

Roxy Music - Oh Yeah

Few singers carry as much emotion as Bryan Ferry singing a ballad. "Oh Yeah" off 1980's Roxy Music album Flesh And Blood is one of my all-time favourite ballads, and that is mostly because of Ferry. If any other singer tried his or her hand at it, using the exact same backing track, it would probably be a lesser song no matter who it was. So there!



VCMG - Spock

VCMG is short for Vince Clarke Martin Gore, and by that you should know that we are talking about two of the most important songwriters in the world of synth-pop. Vince Clarke was the songwriter on the first Depeche Mode album Speak & Spell (1981), who shortly after its release decided he wanted to something else and formed Yazoo with singer Alison Moyet, leaving the other Depeche Mode members high and dry. Did they give up? Not at all. Martin Gore rose to the challenge and became as good a songwriter as Clarke - or maybe even better, depending on your tastes in music really. Where Clarke is very much pop-oriented (he went on to form another duo, Erasure), Gore is a far moodier and atmospherically oriented type of songwriter. For the VCMG project they found back together after 30 years of not working together, both of them straying from their chosen paths and creating a darker kind of club music than any of them has made before. Spock was their first EP, released in late 2011 prior to the 2012 album Ssss, and it's a great track, almost six minutes of instrumental synthesized bliss.



Kate Bush - Why Should I Love You?

In 2011 Kate Bush released the album Director's Cut, where she revisited 11 songs from the two albums The Sensual World (1989) and The Red Shoes (1993) that she thought she could improve upon. "Why Should I Love You?" from The Red Shoes was not among them, so I guess she's pretty happy with how it turned out in the first place. At least I know I am. This is one of the many, many songs that make Kate Bush one of the most exciting artists in popular music.



Billie Joe + Norah - Long Time Gone

What a year for fans of The Everly Brothers! In February Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy released the collaborative album What The Brothers Sang, featuring mostly lesser-known gems from the duetting brothers' extensive catalogue. And in November none other than Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day fame and chanteuse Norah Jones do a reinterpretation of the brothers' 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us they have called Foreverly. By clicking on the link below you can read an interview with the pair, as well as hearing first single "Long Time Gone". Exciting stuff!

Read and listen


Ine Hoem - When We Collide

Norwegian singer/songwriter Ine Hoem has been in several bands, but has just released her debut solo EP The Island, featuring the wonderful "When We Collide", as well as the two former singles "Get It Off" and "All Are Sailing". "When We Collide" is a big, electronic ballad, a perfect vehicle for Hoem's rich and lovely voice, and there's something about both the song itself and the performance that makes me think I have heard - and loved - this song forever. It's expertly crafted in every way, and such a powerful song. Ine Hoem is a major talent, well worth watching!

Watch and listen


Lou Reed - Perfect Day

Lou Reed sadly passed away yesterday from liver disease, 71 years old. So many of the good ones disappear now, and Reed was a larger than life presence, having written and recorded so many great songs it's almost scary. He did, however, produce quite a lot of "difficult" songs as well, so I've always had an undecided view of the man and his music. There is no discussion surrounding the qualities of "Perfect Day" though. It's one of his most well-known songs, a ballad from his second solo album, 1972's Transformer, a stunningly beautiful song that is wide open for interpretation. May he rest in peace.



søndag 27. oktober 2013

Electric Light Orchestra - Yours Truly, 2095

ELO's 1981 concept album Time is generally not regarded as among their best, on the contrary rather. That doesn't concern me much though. I love the album that tells the story of a man from the 1980's finding himself of a sudden in the year 2095, unable to return to his previous life, and all the wonders he's encountering. "Yours Truly, 2095" sees the hapless protagonist writing a letter back home to his girlfriend/wife, telling her "I met someone who looks a lot like you, she does the things you do, but she is an IBM" and, later, "she's also a telephone". The future looked a lot different in 1981 than it does today...



Chvrches - Gun

Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches is responsible for one of 2013's best albums, the wonderful The Bones Of What You Believe. In my ears, the 12 song album is a veritable hit parade, but "Gun", the band's third single only reached number 55 on the UK singles chart. A shame, but it' still a fantastic song.

Watch and listen


The Style Council - Speak Like A Child

After Paul Weller disbanded The Jam, he hooked up with keyboardist Mick Talbot and formed the duo The Style Council. Building upon the sound of The Jam's final album, the soul-influenced The Gift (1982), Weller and Talbot took it all out, creating their own brand of pop music, blended with soul and jazz, and later in their heyday, house music. The Style Council became a sort of musical collective, employing different musicians and styles from song to song, but "Speak Like A Child", their 1983 debut single, remains one of their very best. It was also their second biggest hit, reaching number 4 in the UK singles chart, only bettered by "Long Hot Summer" that reached number 3 a few months later.

Watch and listen


lørdag 26. oktober 2013

Depeche Mode - Little 15

The story of "Little 15", the fourth single off the 1987 Depeche Mode album Music For The Masses, is a funny one. It was never intended as a single, but the French record label insisted and it became so. Ironically, or symptomatically, it didn't chart at all in France, and in the UK it became the band's second lowest-charting single, stalling at a sorry number 60 on the singles chart. It did chart, and become a minor hit, in Switzerland, Austria and West Germany, and personally I really like the song, a moody piece of pop music of the kind that Depeche Mode has perfected so well over the years.

Watch and listen


Beranek - Tobor's Heart

Beranek's full name is Espen Beranek Holm, a Norwegian journalist, satirist, comedian and musician, who has just released his first new album in 19 years. Sensitive Dependence is an old school synth album, belonging in the same musical landscape as early Human League, Ultravox around the time of the Vienna period, Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, OMD and of course Kraftwerk, some of these names to a larger extent than others. Beranek's major claim to fame is for the 1981 novelty hit "Dra te hælvete" (Go to Hell) which was banned from the same Norwegian broadcaster that some years later became his employer, NRK. The music on Sensitive Dependence is quite different from this though, moodier and more atmospheric. "Tobor's Heart" is a beautiful instrumental off the album, with an accompanying music video showing a pair of dancers on top of the Opera building in Oslo and briefly showing Beranek himself at a couple of occasions. And the album comes highly recommended, by the way.

Watch and listen


Soul II Soul - Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)

British R&B collective Soul II Soul sounded like the 90's even before the 90's had started. Their big 1989 hit "Back To Life" was originally an a capella number off debut album Club Classics Vol. 1, but was remixed and re-recorded for single release, which proved to be a good idea. A laidback club beat, some tinkling with a house piano, and some synthesized strings laid the foundation for singer Caron Wheeler's wonderful voice, and voila! They had a hit on their hands.

Watch and listen


fredag 25. oktober 2013

Sondre Lerche - Almighty Moon

Something to be said about many of Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche's songs is that they're written by someone who looks to challenge himself in his work, continuously looking for new ways to construct a song. Paradoxically, even though his songs probably are the results of painstaking work and late hours, they can sometimes sound completely effortless. "Almighty Moon" from his 2009 album Heartbeat Radio is a good example of this duality. It's a wonderful, up-tempo pop song that just sounds easy as a breeze.



Diana Ross - Upside Down

After three successful LP's in a row, R&B/disco outfit Chic was hot shit at the turn of the 1980's. That's when Diana Ross enlisted the help of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the masterminds of Chic, to help produce and write her new album. That turned out to be a very wise move as the first single "Upside Down", released in June 1980, became her biggest hit in four years, and the corresponding album diana became her highest-charting solo album ever, apart from the soundtrack to Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings The Blues. Also, "Upside Down" is one of the most well-known (and best) disco singles of all time. A stone cold dancefloor classic!

Watch and listen


torsdag 24. oktober 2013

Arctic Monkeys - One For The Road

I'm really surprised that "No. 1 Party Anthem" was not chosen as the new single and video from Arctic Monkeys' latest album AM, but "One For The Road" is not bad at all. It's just a bit... well, not quite as good. Having said that, it's still a decent song and then some, and the video looks great. AM has so far spawned four great singles - "R U Mine", "Do I Wanna Know", Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?" and this one, but the mighty "No 1. Party Anthem" will really nail it. OK, next time then...

Watch and listen


The Clash - Safe European Home

"Safe European Home" was the opening track on The Clash' second album, 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope, telling of a scary songwriting trip Joe Strummer and Mick Jones had to a violent and gun-crazy Jamaica. Apparently they had some really bad experiences there. Musically this song builds upon the straightforward punk of their first album, but is leaning towards the richer and far more exciting band that blossomed on London Calling, another year on.



Prefab Sprout - The Best Jewel Thief In The World

This gets better and better. The return of Prefab Sprout and Paddy McAloon has now spawned a new music video, set to the tones of first single "The Best Jewel Thief In The World" off the brilliant new album Crimson/Red. Shot in black and white, it shows the titular criminal mastermind roaming LA for treasure, wearing a dark outfit, hat and, of course, a mask. The whole thing is pretty funny, visually very good, and the song is of course fantastic. It's so good to have Paddy back!

Watch and listen


HIT ALERT! Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly - Do What U Want

The second single from Lady Gaga's forthcoming third album Artpop is a pop revelation. "Do What U Want" features R&B singer R. Kelly and the song is a surefire hit, immediately memorable and dead catchy. I liked first single "Applause" well enough, but this new one I really love. It has the words "hit single" written all over it. Like so much pop music these days, "Do What U Want" owes a certain debt to the synth-pop of the 1980's, and at the same time it's as current and up to date as it can possibly be. This is simply a fantastic song!



Truls - Tear Me Up

Truls (surname Heggero) used to be the singer of Norwegian indie pop band Lukestar who released three albums in their time, and he also did an album fronting a project called Truls And The Trees. After Lukestar disbanded in 2012, falsetto-voiced Truls has put all his effort into a solo career that has been massively hyped, but for good reason. The two hit singles "Out Of Yourself" and "The Next" have graced the radio waves and dance floors for some months now, and last week saw the unveiling of his proper debut solo album, TRVLS (pronounced "travels"). It's an amazing record, expertly produced by Thomas Eriksen, a modern synth-pop album that resembles what Chvrches are doing but with a nod to hip hop here, a nod to R&B there, and even going in the direction of the xx a few places. This is serious pop music, as the new single "Tear Me Up" most certainly attests to. And don't be deceived. Truls may be big and a little awkward-looking but he's got the voice of an angel and the pop sensibility to match it. After only a few spins I can safely say that TRVLS is among this year's best debut albums - in contrast to what some po-faced reviewers seem to think. They probably wouldn't recognize a good pop song if it hit them in the face anyway, so here's to Truls: Congratulations!

Watch and listen


onsdag 23. oktober 2013

David Bowie - Wild Is The Wind

"Wild Is The Wind" was first recorded in 1957 by Johnny Mathis for the film of the same name. It was written by film music composer Dimitri Tiomkin and lyricist Ned Washington, and has been covered by countless artists since. Among the best-known versions are Nina Simone's 1959 live version and David Bowie's definitive version that features on his 1976 album Station To Station. It's one of Bowie's defining performances in which he really gets to show the impressive range of his voice. It's also one of my all-time favourite ballads, and I do mean the Bowie version. He really makes the song his own.



Vampire Weekend vs. Queens Of The Stone Age vs. Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines

"Blurred Lines", the monster hit by Robin Thicke with friends T.I. and Pharrell Williams, is probably my favourite single of 2013. It was everywhere this summer, and it still sounds fantastic. It's a hit with some staying power, to put it that way. As so many hits it has already been covered by lots of people, and a few of these have been more interesting than others. Both New York indie darlings Vampire Weekend and stoner heroes Queens Of The Stone Age have performed versions on BBC Radio for Radio 1's Live Lounge, as well as the man himself, Robin Thicke. All these versions are somehow lacking in quality, even Thicke's own take, here without his famous friends, and I think Vampire Weekend succeeds best. Not one of them can match the strutting original though, but again, they can be called interesting. Have a peek and a listen and make up your own mind.

Vampire Weekend version

Queens Of The Stone Age version

Robin Thicke version



Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)/What's Going On

Marvin Gaye's 1971 album What's Going On is pretty much always among the top 10 when a survey of the best albums ever recorded is held. And no wonder, as good as it is. Here's a medley of two of the key songs, "Mercy Mercy Me" and the title track, from a show in Montreux in 1980 that can be summed up as easy as this: Those songs, that voice! Stunning!

Watch and listen


tirsdag 22. oktober 2013

Ylvis - Massachusetts

"The Fox", at the time of writing this at 148 million YouTube viewings, has turned Norwegian comedy act Ylvis into international superstars, surprisingly for everyone, and probably most of all, for the boys themselves, Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker. Now, to counteract the success which have gained them access to US television shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, they have made a new video and song called "Massachusetts", ending in a very non-PC sequence where they basically say it's really OK to be gay and kiss other men - and more. I don't think that's really what America expects of these two good-looking Norwegians, so let's see if it somehow backfires on them. If so, I'm pretty sure that's intentional. For good measure, the boys have enlisted their sidekick Calle Hellevang-Larsen. And let me also add, this is nowhere near as good a song as "The Fox" actually is, but it's great fun. The best comedy act since Flight Of The Conchords? Hell yeah!

Watch and listen


Fleetwood Mac - Little Lies

Tango In The Night, Fleetwood Mac's 1987 album, was a successful one, and their biggest seller since 1977's Rumours. Featuring several hit singles, the best one may just be the Christine McVie composition "Little Lies" (co-written with her husband at the time, Eddy Quintela). As of today, Christine McVie is of course no longer part of the classic Rumours line-up, so that's why the band doesn't play it on the current tour. If she had been part of the group, it would have been a sure thing. Be that as it may, we can listen to "Little Lies" anytime and enjoy it immensely. What a song!

Watch and listen


mandag 21. oktober 2013

Arcade Fire - Afterlife

Here's another new Arcade Fire track from the album Reflektor that will be released on Monday as a double CD set. "Afterlife" sounds absolutely brilliant, and I can't wait to hear the full album. Here's the lyric video for the song, six minutes of something resembling pure genius.

Watch and listen


Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark - Messages

"Messages" was the first single I bought by Liverpool duo Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark (OMD for short), a minimalistic-sounding synth-pop single released in 1980 and lifted from their beautiful self-titled debut album. The sound was clearly influenced by people like Brian Eno and especially Kraftwerk, and OMD shared this with other bands at the time, such as Human League, Gary Numan's band Tubeway Army and to a certain extent Simple Minds. Like all these, OMD were also fond of a good pop song, and that is exactly what "Messages" is.

Watch and listen


The Dream Academy - Life In A Northern Town

The Dream Academy was a British pop trio with ambition. In 1985 Nick Laird-Clowes, Kate St. John and Gilbert Gabriel debuted with the extraordinary single "Life In A Northern Town", a song where pop music absolutely and totally became something more than just that, it was pop music as art. Not only is "Life In A Northern Town" a brilliant song in itself, a successful composition, just as importantly it has a genius arrangement where Kate St. John's oboe, a host of strings, some African-style chanting, Laird-Clowes' ingratiating voice and Gabriel's layers of keyboards all come into one being, masterfully produced too, by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Laird-Clowes' himself and Alan Tarney, also famous for his work with a-ha. Their eponymous debut album that was released later that year was also a feast for the ears, but their two follow-up albums were both a bit disappointing. Then again, I'll remember the name of any band that release just one song as good as "Life In A Northern Town" for the rest of my life anyway.

Watch and listen


Buckingham Nicks album in full

Buckingham Nicks, the semi-legendary album that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks released before they joined Fleetwood Mac, has never been released on CD, and its unavailability is something of a mystery. The 10 track, 1973 release is a good album, that deserves to see the light of day again, but thankfully due to the Internet of our modern day and age, it is of course possible to hear it. Here it is then, in its entirety on what appears to be the official Stevie Nicks YouTube site, and just so you know it, the best song comes last and is called "Frozen Love", incidentally the only co-write on the album. If you want to read more about Buckingham Nicks, you may go the Wikipedia article.



Robbie Williams - Go Gentle

November 18 sees the release of Robbie Williams' second swing album, Swings Both Ways. Featuring duet partners like Lily Allen and Michael Bublé, it sounds like an exciting prospect, and judging from the brand new single "Go Gentle" he's got something very good up his sleeve this time. He's reunited with the songwriter Guy Chambers who helped Williams to his biggest successes and best songs, and on "Go Gentle" the pair (along with co-writer Chris Heath) has created a fantastic pop song, a melancholic masterpiece along the lines of the 2000 single "The Road To Mandalay", which happens to be my all-time favourite Robbie Williams song. To dub this song as "swing" is quite a stretch though, but I really don't care. This one's a keeper!

Watch and listen


søndag 20. oktober 2013

Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again

Tonight I'll be seeing Fleetwood Mac live in Oslo, and it's the almost classic Rumours line-up sans Christine McVie that is performing. The thought of seeing Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie share a stage is more than enough to make me drool, although it's never really complete without Christine. One of the highlights of tonight's show is bound to be the Rumours track "Never Going Back Again", one of Buckingham's best songs ever. The clip below shows the band perform it in Boston in 2004, on the tour they embarked upon in the aftermath of Say You Will, the 2003 record that is their last to date.

Watch and listen


In Tua Nua - Don't Fear Me Now (Kiss You Once More)

In Tua Nua (the phonetic spelling of An Tuath Nua, meaning "the new tribe") was an Irish band which enjoyed a certain success in the late 1980's. An early member of the group was Steve Wickham who later joined The Waterboys, and an early single was a co-write with a young Sinead O'Connor. Fronted by singer/guitarist Leslie Dowdall they did fine without these future luminaries, but it never really took off. "Don't Fear Me Now" is my favourite In Tua Nua song, a single off 1988's The Long Acre album, an energetic folk-pop song that sounds very Irish.

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The Monroes - Sunday People

What a sad state of affair's when people die too young. The 18th of March this year Eivind Rølles died of cancer, and yesterday Lage Fosheim, his partner in the duo The Monroes, succumbed to illness too. They became respectively 54 and 55 years old. In 1983 they burst upon the Norwegian music scene with the infectious "Sunday People", a Madness-inspired pop song that spent five weeks on top of the Norwegian singles chart that autumn. They went on to release four albums, all of them big successes. Both Rølles and Fosheim had careers on the other side of the table too, working for record companies as well-respected and well-liked A&R men. May they put out a good tune or two wherever they have gone.

Watch and listen


lørdag 19. oktober 2013

The Police - Message In A Bottle

The best Police song? Could be. I have always loved "Message In A Bottle" since it first came out in 1979, both as a single and appearing on the band's second album, the wonderful Regatta de Blanc. It's a pop song wrapped in a reggae groove, with the punkish twist that the band was ridiculed for by the "right-minded" at the time. I wouldn't give a lot of credit to people who dismiss The Police with a shrug. They were a great band, fantastic musicians, and Sting knows a great pop song when he comes across it. Case closed.

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Kim Cesarion - Brains Out

The Swedish R&B singer Kim Cesarion has not only delivered one, but two of the coolest pop singles of 2013. After the ridiculously catchy "Undressed" he's followed suit with "Brains Out", another blatanly sexual assault on your dancefloor partner. OK, so he does sing "I'm gonna love your brains out", but everyone knows what that really means. The fact remains though that Cesarion so far can be labelled a pop phenomenon of the highest order with two very catchy singles, gearing up for his 2014 debut album. Something to look forward to, I'm sure.

Watch and listen


Astrid Smeplass & Julie Bergan - Undressed

Kim Cesarion's "Undressed" is one of the best songs of 2013, and budding Norwegian singers Astrid Smeplass and Julie Bergan, known from Idol and Melodi Grand Prix (the qualifying rounds for the Eurovision Song Contest) respectively, seem to agree. They have recorded a beautiful acoustic version that differs enormously from the dance-oriented original, but you know what they say, the song remains the same.

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Suzanne Vega - In Liverpool

The 1992 album 99.9F° was a musical departure for Suzanne Vega and her, until then, mainly acoustic singer/songwriter expression. On this, her fourth album, she went for a more electric and, to a certain extent, electronic approach, no doubt aided in great part by her newfound producer and later to be husband, Mitchell Froom. Froom, a noted producer of acts like Crowded House, Richard Thompson and Los Lobos, was a perfect choice for Vega who needed a boost at the time. "In Liverpool" is the brilliant lead single off the album, as wonderful and exciting today as it was back then.

Watch and listen


Fleetwood Mac - Dreams

Lucky me! This Sunday I will see Fleetwood Mac perform in Oslo, and it's the current "classic line-up sans Christine McVie" that is coming to the concert hall Oslo Spektrum. By classic I refer to the Rumours and beyond line-up, featuring Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood in addition to Christine McVie. When recording the 1977 classic Rumours the interrelationships of the band were "complicated" to say the least, but it resulted in one of the best albums recorded in the entire history of pop music which has sold more than 45 million copies to date! "Dreams" is written and sung by Stevie Nicks and it just might be the best song on the album.



Atoms For Peace - Before Your Very Eyes...

Atoms For Peace is the supergroup fronted by Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, and featuring Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame on bass, part time R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on keyboards and programming and Mauro Refosco of Forro In The Dark (?) on percussive instruments. Their debut album Amok was released this February and it's an absolutely brilliant rhythm-fest. "Before Your Very Eyes..." is the hypnotic opening track, close to six minutes of spellbinding musicianship. I love it!

Watch and listen

Sondre Lerche - Days That Are Over

"Days That Are Over" is a song off Norwegian singer/songwriter Sondre Lerche's second album Two Way Monologue (2004), from which the title track surely is the best-known song. However, I much prefer "Days That Are Over", an unashamedly sweet-sounding pop song to equal the best of Burt Bacharach, and obviously also inspired by the songwriting legend. As far as Lerche is concerned he's been unjustly accused of certain other influences before (to wit, Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon, early in his career when he had no idea who McAloon was), so I'll not be too bombastic in regards to stating his influences, but the ghost of Bacharach really seems present here. The video for "Days That Are Over" is pretty good too, a parody on television game shows, sitcoms and reality programs which is really quite funny, especially considering that Lerche today is a mentor on television show The Voicy at home in Norway.

Watch and listen


fredag 18. oktober 2013

Kings Of Convenience - Peacetime Resistance

Norwegian acoustic folk-pop duo Kings Of Convenience has got the best titles. Their three albums to date are Quiet Is The New Loud, Riot On An Empty Street and Declaration Of Dependence, ironically brilliant titles all. The equally well-titled song "Peacetime Resistance" is culled from the latter of these, released in 2009, and it's also an absolutely fantastic song, as melodic and sweet-sounding as a pop song can possibly be. I love these guys. Really, I do.



The Rainmakers - Drinkin' On The Job

Kansas City rock band The Rainmakers went on to become a whole lot more popular here in Norway than in their native USA. After releasing three albums in the late 1980's they disbanded, but twice (or three times?) reformed and toured in Norway, also releasing new music. Their heartland rock, mainly written by lead singer Bob Walkenhorst, struck gold with Norwegian audiences and the band also did well in other European countries in the 80's, including the UK where "Let My People Go-Go" cracked the Top 20 in 1986. Cue to this version of "Drinkin' From The Job", another great track from their eponymous debut album, recorded in the western Norwegian city of Bergen in 2012 (?), incorporating portions of "Ring Of Fire", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Wipe Out", for an eight minute fireworks of a performance. The Rainmakers was - and apparantly is - a fantastic live band.

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Scritti Politti - Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)

Scritti Politti's first album, 1982's Songs To Remember, was an exciting and almost anarchic blend of different musical styles, but the sophistication was there from the beginning although it didn't jump out at you. It was a moderately successful album though, mainly because of the beautiful single "The Sweetest Girl". For the follow-up album, frontman Green Gartside went to New York City, gathering a host of brilliant studio musicians led by legendary producer Arif Mardin, and recorded Cupid & Psyche 85, which is pure studio brilliance and sophistication throughout. It's definitely not as immediate and charming as its predecessor, but it's a great album all the same. The single "Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" was released in 1984, and became Scritti Politti's biggest hit to date.

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torsdag 17. oktober 2013

Nick Drake - Which Will

Pink Moon, Nick Drake's third and final album, was released in 1972. Like its two predecessors it's lovely, and it's the most sparse of them, only featuring Drake's fragile voice, his acoustic guitar and piano. "Which Will" is as beautiful as any song can possibly be, and a fitting way for me to say goodnight. Sweet dreams, everyone.