2011/12/24

God Jul!


Nils Berg Cinemascope is a Stockholm jazz project, improvising to youtube videos. Thought this would be a fitting Music Quack season's greeting! God Jul, everybody!



2011/12/18

Finn Loxbo

One more to look out for in 2012
Finn Loxbo - Vi kom från jorden by Kning Disk

Gothenburg solo artist Finn Loxbo is releasing his debut album Lines, Curtains on February 27 via brilliant label Kning Disk. The label is known to try and bridge the gap between art music and mainstream "indie" with artists like Anna von Hausswolff and Peter Broderick. Finn Loxbo comes from the bubbling Gothenburg dirt-folk underground scene as well as the guitar art music scene and has been developing a sound for several years and switching between Swedish and English lyrics. On the two teaser tracks released today we hear the native tongue side of him, with the piano song Vi Kom Från Jorden reciting part of an existentialist post-apocalyptic poem by Swedish 20th century author Harry Martinsson. The Quack managed to dig up the passage translated to English so that you can get a glimpse of the wonder.
We came from Earth, from Dorisland
the jewel in our solar system,
the only orb where life obtained
a land of milk and honey.
Describe the landscapes found back there,
the days those dawns could breed.
Describe the creature fine and fair
who sewed the shrouds for his own seed
till God and Satan hand in hand
through a deranged and poisoned land
took flight uphill and down
from a man: a king with ashen crown.
(From Aniara, translation by Stephen Klass and Leif Sjöberg)

The second track on the teaser is a darker affair in the Tom Waits/Nick Cave area of music. Here we hear Finn on his main instrument, the guitar. The album is mixed by an Uppsala hip-hop DJ, somewhat surprising one might think. But perhaps that is why the production is void of the over-soft qualities of 90s café background music which too often burdens Swedish singer-songwriters. Just a guess. We will be awaiting the end of February with impatience.

Finn Loxbo - Regnet by Kning Disk

Also:
Experimental EP for solo guitar on Soundcloud
Finn's myspace page



2011/12/15

New artists to watch out for in 2012

HEIDI HARRIS (USA)
tall tall tales (song sketch) by Heidi Harris
Here we have an experimental folk artist blending jazz, flamenco with art indie and the result is as simple as it is complex; a great musician jamming in a room and creating something that is just beautiful.
Click here for all of her songs on soundcloud.


THE MAD PRIDE (Australia)
Malice by The Mad Pride
Rowan Galagher from Wollongong writes haunting, atmospheric and dark music in his apartment. Musical influences can be heard from David Bowie, Erik Satie and perhaps some classic Sisters of Mercy, but really none of those names can define him. Check The Mad Pride out!
Click here for all of his songs on Soundcloud.


JOAKIM FRITZNER (Sweden)
Thoughts On Us 23-3 by Joakim Fritzner
Sweden is currently somewhat flooded with "americana artists", but this guy stands out in my opinion. An EP as a split vinyl album will be released in January 2012.
Facebook page (split, just as the vinyl...)


UDO BRIQUETTE (UK) Wrong by Udo Briquette
This UK artist, I know literally NOTHING about him, creates mangled, fucked up music somewhere in the industrial spectra. Trying to explain what it sounds like (Fad Gadget+Meat Beat Manifesto+Throbbing Gristle) is probably meaningless to alot of readers. Just press play!
Click here for all of Udo's tracks on Soundcloud




2011/12/13

Music Quack official Best Albums of 2011

The Music Quack is not even one year old, but of course we needed to put together a best of 2011 list. As we shall see it's been a great year for female vocalists, and for Swedish music. Even though it's our specialty I've tried to make this a global list, but the great albums made in Sweden just seem to take us over.


CLICK A COVER TO GET SPOTIFY LINKS!

#1: JOSEF & ERIKA - Floods


Sweden's Josef & Erika came seemingly from nowhere this year with a new sound and new style
of writing. Floods did not only wash me away, it lifted me up and made me forget about
everything else. Erika Angell's vocal performance is truly world class and so is
Josef's bass work. This duo is in a class for themselves. Songs like Silence,
Floods Cover My Ankles, Fight & Day, The Roar and Blow Life in my Soul... Pure love.


#2: FLEET FOXES - Helplessness Blues


It took me a while to listen to this album properly, due to a certain sense of disgust over
the ridiculous critical praise. But unlike Bon Iver's equally acclaimed album, this one
really is a masterpiece. I've been annoying people for some time now pointing out
that the two first tracks on Helplessness Blues contain more melodic material
than the whole of "Bon Iver, Bon Iver". Enough said, just enjoy this musical ride
and forget all about folk beards. Noone cares.


#3: EDDA MAGNASON - Goods

Edda Magnason's second album is something as rare as a perfect production.
Loaning at times from Kate Bush but mostly just playing joyously
with all kinds of music and flying off into the sky like a magical flying
paper boat Goods is the most endearing album
this year and lays the grounds for a great career.


#4: I BREAK HORSES - Hearts


I Break Horses is another female artist from Sweden, and a male lyricist, who seemingly came
from nowhere to crash right into the music world with this electronic, classically
influenced dreamgaze. Still virtually unheard of in their home country, a fact for many
great musicians of the north, I put them down as the biggest thing in
Stockholm 2013... This album is particularly impressive when you read that Maria Lindén "tried"
recording it in a studio but ended up making it in her flat instead. Wow, just WOW.


#5: LYKKE LI - Wounded Rhymes

Just when Youth Novels was starting to feel stale and dull Lykke Li
returned with an album so soulful and sharp it rather stunned
me and the rest of Sweden. Great songs at the core,
wrapped in the most exquisite reverb drenched production and a voice
which is quickly evolving into something it quite frankly never was.
Who knows what this artistry will turn into in the future?


#6: THE ANTLERS - Burst Apart

The Antlers managed to follow up Hospice with an equally amazing album.
Somewhat of an enigma, this album is all over the place and yet it
holds together without effort. I've listened to this and found myself thinking
that I don't miss Radiohead. Who needs them anyway?


#7: UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

This Kiwi/US band did what so many seemed to fail at this year, they made
a great, funky indie album, void of mainstream production shit
and full of groove. Fuck me, more of this shitz plz.


#8: MIRRORS - Lights and Offerings

While hipster America is busy dwelling in the stinking archives of Phil Collins
and Toto, on the other side of the Atlantic there is still hope
left for good synth pop. England's Mirrors stand out brilliantly this year with
their debut album showing how much there still is to explore in the landscapes left
to us by Kraftwerk.


#9: TAPE - Revelationes

Best instrumental album of the year, Swedish jazz trio Tape reached
new heights with this masterpiece. Blending classic post-rock and avantgarde electro-acoustics
into their soft lounge jazz they create true breathlessness.


#10: THUS:OWLS - Harbours

Thus:Owls's second album turned out to be a bit of a hard nut to crack.
I keep thinking it's a slow and dark album, but in fact it is rather
fast and even poppy. The band did not take the easiest path, a choice which
pretty much defines them. Experimenting with different styles and moods,
I only wish it would have a slightly stronger core. But when one considers
that Erika Angell already has the #1 spot on our list, this is still
pretty damn good.


#11: LIAM FINN - FOMO

New Zealand's Liam Finn moved on from the heavy Beatles influences of his
debut album and did something slightly more Auckland-Party on FOMO
and soaked the fresh sound with the underlying plot line concept,
his Fear Of Missing Out. Being a brilliant songwriter pushes this album up to towards the very top.
Don't miss out on this!


#12: ÓLAFUR ARNALDS - Living Room Songs

Perhaps technically an EP, who knows these days? Iceland's king of
instrumental music deserves a place on here.


#13: SÓLEY - We Sink

Also from Iceland, Sóley debuted with an experimental yet melodious keyboard album.
Somewhat beaten to it by swede/icelander Edda Magnason but not quite as solid a production
this is an icelander we'll be hearing alot more from.


#14: SKRIET - Det Beslutande Organet

Skriet - Predikament
Swedish band Skriet gather dark moods from GYBE, Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes
and blend it with native indie poets like Olle Ljungström. Unique in their narrow niche
this was a great album if you had the patience.


#15: PAPERCUTS - Fading Parade

US indie trio Papercuts released another great album with a dense reverb
sound, its greatness depending to a large amount on the
unusually sweet yet powerful vocals.


#16: CIVIL CIVIC - Rules

UK/Spain intrumental rock duo Civil Civic continue to blast the brains out
of audiences and headphone-kids on the tram with their tasty blend of Pumpkins and post-rock.


#17: JONATHAN WILSON - Gentle Spirit

Retro songwriting still isn't "out" which is proven by a very strong debut by this
American artist. He takes some from here, some from there and does it brilliantly. The only problem is
I seem to lose track of who HE is when he jumps too quickly from Elliott Smith
to Cat Stevens. Perhaps he'll get better at that in the future.


#18: PJ HARVEY - Let England Shake

I think many would argue that this ought to be higher up. The problem I have with this
album is the constant cut-ups and record samples that are all over the place. Feels like they are
there only to make it sound "art" but because they are so butt ugly it just
sounds crap. Also the sound is often over produced and digitally stale.
Conclusion: the producer Flood was way too far up his own asshole.
The song material though is fantastic.


#19: THE RAPTURE - In The Grace Of Your Love

Brooklyn band The Rapture move even further away from their plastic punk past
with this very Arcade Fiery flirtatious album. Great vocals
and soul/disco beats makes it a great record.


#20: NICOLAI DUNGER - Ballad Of This Land

Swedish singer songwriter Nicolai Dunger went to Ireland to find some sort of
deeper understanding for its folk tradition. The result is a set of brilliant songs.
A couple of them are on the cheesy side though, be warned.




2011/12/12

Hanne Hukkelberg - Featherbrain and new song premiere


Had a quick conversation today with Propeller Records and I am oh so happy to announce that Hanne Hukkelberg has finished recording a new album and that it is set for release on February 24th of 2012. The album will be called Featherbrain and will be her fourth full-length studio album. It was recorded in New York and is being described as a slightly more difficult album compared with her previous ones. The song Noah was premiered on the Norwegian radio show Harald Are Lund on 12th December and the Music Quack was bold enough to record this to share with you! Unfortunately this wasn't too popular with Universal records who Hanne is now signed to, so it was deleted from our profile, but luckily Hanne herself is now sharing the song. I don't want to have a lengthy debate here, but it all seems a bit silly to me, to consider streaming a promotional track to be a crime...

Noah by Hanne Hukkelberg

There's also a rad video for the song My Devils:


My Devils by Hanne Hukkelberg

Earlier post on Hanne

Hanne's website
Facebook Page
Twitter



2011/12/04

Lhasa de Sela - The unforgettable

A last album that leaves a mark

It's been 707 days since Lhasa de Sela's sad and shocking departure from our world. Only eight months after the release of her final self-titled album Lhasa she was no more. Some have speculated, as one does when these things happen, if she named it after herself to make it her final contribution to the world, that the album itself should be the vessel of her soul when the body was no more. Alas, this is probably not true because of the fact that she thought she had recovered from her illness during the album's release and then later in the year had a relapse. The reason behind the title is more likely to be a proclamation of identity. On Lhasa's command the entire recording was done using only analogue equipment, with the intent that it should also be listened to on vinyl. Compared with her previous album "The Living Road" it is also startlingly pure, beautiful and alive. This was Lhasa without compression, without manipulations and alterations. The album puts its listener closer to Lhasa than any other.


What Kind Of Heart by Lhasa de Sela

Where Do You Go by Lhasa de Sela

Anyone and Everyone by Lhasa se Sela

Perhaps it's this closeness and the unbearable tragedy which compels most music journalists to write extensively about her other two albums and in a short line mention her last album without comment. Or perhaps it is ignorance. Why do I say so? Well it's because Lhasa is the very best album of hers and most probably one of the very best albums of our time. Just take the setting for one thing. Almost the entire album is played on plucked strings; we have all kinds of guitars, double bass, harp, plucked violin. Nothing else except for some occasional pedal steel guitar blending in with the chiming notes of the other instruments, an odd piano and the jazz style drums. This choice of instruments makes Lhasa's voice pretty much the only sustained sound on the album and brings her vocals to the forefront in a magical way. No bowed strings, trumpets, flutes or accordions that are so prominent on the earlier albums. I've often found myself confusing the harp with the guitar and bass only to realise that they sound like one giant instrument, an immense string apparatus built by some mad genius. Then I let the thought go and get hypnotised by the vocals once more.


Lhasa de Sela is often described as elusive and mysterious, but I find that description rather odd. Few artists have dared to be so naked in front of a microphone. It is the rest of the world that is elusive, hidden behind a cloak. But this media image of her did not come from the music, it came from her sometimes erratic behaviour. At the peak of her breaking career after debut album La Llorona she left Montréal and the music world to join a circus in France with her sisters. She lived this life for several years and didn't return until 2003. Her songs often attempt to explain this wandering, escaping character trait, albeit in a minimalistic poetic form. The lyrics of Rising for instance:
I got caught in a storm
That's what happened to me
So I didn't call
And you didn't see me for a while
I was rising up
Hitting the ground
And breaking

Certainly a sensitive soul. The kind of fragility that brings with it an excellent ability to create and foster great art.
Lhasa de Sela will not be forgotten.

Spotity Links:
Lhasa (2009)
The Living Road (2003)
La Llorona (1997)
"Sometimes it hurts" (duet with Tindersticks (2003)
"That leaving feeling" (duet with Stuart A. Staples (2006)

Official Website



2011/12/03

Tape

Stockholm instrumental trio explores unseen heights
The Wild Palms by Tape

We've written about the Stockholm experimental jazz scene before, and the instrumental trio Tape certainly is part of that scene. Using mainly a rather simple setup of guitar, electric piano, computer manipulated sounds and vintage analogue synths, what comes out is something between jazz and classic post-rock (ie like Tortoise or late Talk Talk). The computer manipulations and melodies they perform sound like nothing I've ever heard before. Neither does the way the different themes seem to wait for eachother to blend in magically while the overall arrangements appear improvised. It's a wonderful combination of chaos and order.

Johan Berthling and Tomas Hallonsten getting ready for a gig in France. Computer player Andreas Berthling presumably holding the camera.

Earlier this year Tape released their fifth studio album, Revelationes (sic). It's a masterpiece which is just making it even harder for the Quack to construct the list of Best Swedish Albums of 2011. Such a sweet dilemma. Tape has with every album become more and more defined, starting out as a rather vague ambient jazz project. With 2008 album Luminarium they made a slight departure and started creating more distinct themes for the guitar, or "hooks" if you will, while keeping the bisarre parts of their sound by almost letting it take the place of a lead vocalist, a soul-provider of sorts. You might disagree with this definition but it doesn't really matter because the very strongest part of Tape's music is how they seemingly without effort let it swell and fly off to places you wouldn't expect and sometimes find hard to understand. And all this with very small increases in volume. Now I doubt that anyone could really define that.

Dust & Light by Tape

Spotify Links:
Revelationes (2011)
Luminarium (2008)
Rideau (2005)
Milieu (2004)
Opera (2002)

Facebook page
Official website



Pascal


Only yesterday I was talking about Skriet but there is no point waiting, we need to talk about another band with the same singer, called Pascal. Isak Sundström is one of the vocalists and guitarist in this garagerock band from Gotland, Sweden. The other vocalist is bass player Manuela De Gouveia and with drummer Mimmi Skog they make trashy loud rock with over-distorted guitar and cheap amp-reverb. Somewhat similar to The Cramps and some Jesus and Mary Chain, although with lots more energy and with an unmistakable Swedish punk attitude. For instance the lyrics to "Min enda vän" translate as:
"My only friend is Elvis, Nobody else deserves me, I'm gonna die on a toilet, with Elvis".
Wonderful stuff. Keep that piece of poetry in mind when watching this video.



Pascal, like Skriet seem to be blissfully unaware of soundcloud, so I can't post anything from their latest album. I can however give you some Spotify links, which I advise you to follow, or you might end up listening to the god awful greek "keyboard" artist Pascal. Almost ruined the Quack's day. Luckily, Pascal (SWE) is the kind of band which holds the power to completely annihilate all memories of crap music from your brain.

Spotify Links:
Orkanen närmar sig (2010)
Galgberget (2008)
Förbi fabriken (2006)



2011/12/02

Skriet


Stockholm duo Skriet seem to have listened alot to Joy Division and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, just judging from the most apparent parts of their sound. The singing however moves them far from these bands. It seems to draw mainly on the swedish tradition, with low-fi vocalists like Thomas DiLeva and Olle Ljungström and their controlled wailings. The combination does sound like Arcade Fire sometimes though... Most significant about this band however is their patience, so rare these days. This band has the time to let their songs rest in themselves.



Their new album, Det beslutande organet, was released in October to extremely favourable reviews in Sweden. If you have spotify, give it a listen, and keep in mind it isn't the fastest most immediate music you'll hear this year. Perfect for this time of year really.

Det beslutande organet at Spotify
Facebook page