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Favourite Five*… Modern Classics of Swedish Pop to Hear at Glastonbury This Summer

Posted: April 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Articles/Reviews, Cluster Articles, Front Page | Tags: , , | Comments Off

large_large_Those_Dancing_Days

Indie pop goes the swedish librarian.

If like me you go weak at the knees for swedish girls singing catchy left of centre pop songs then you too will have rejoiced at the recently announced Glastonbury line-up. For this summer there will be (WARNING: lazy Swedish pun approaching) a smorgasbord of swedish pop sirens (BAM!) performing. A relatively small smorgasboard perhaps, one with only enough room for three different catchy melody infused dishes but for the interests of tacky Scandinavian wordplay in this post, a smorgasbord none the less. In honour of this here’s our favourite five* swedish pop songs to sing along with at the world’s greatest festival.

* It’s five plus one fave songs because we love each of these three artists equally so gave them two songs each.

1. THOSE DANCING DAYS – Hitten

Sweetness songified. But not sickly at all.

2. THOSE DANCING DAYS – Those Dancing Days

Can’t think what to call your jaunty new tune? Then just repeat your band name!

3. ROBYN – Dancing On My Own

I’ll dance with you Robyn.

4. ROBYN – Call Your Girlfriend

I haven’t got a girlfriend Robyn. Do you want to be my girlfriend?

5. LYYKE LI – Little Bit

I am more than a little bit in love with you Lykke Li.

(5 +1 =) 6. LYKKE LI – Tonight

Tonight, I’ve been given a restraining order for stalking swedish pop stars. Karin Andersson, watch out.


Cultpops December I: BBC Sound of 2011 Special

Posted: December 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Articles/Reviews, Cluster Articles, Front Page | Tags: , | Comments Off

Jai-PaulJai Paul. Front Page image – James Blake.

At this time of year for the last few years the BBC compiles a bullshit list of artists that silly music industry types have told them will be the next big thing of the coming 12 months. Worse than that, the organisers turn it into a knockout competition. Starting with fifteen, then counting down each day until one remains: the artist that will be the ‘Sound’ of the new year. It’s basically just a big promotion stunt by the music industry to promote their new acts. Those that get on the list are those that have the most promotion money and biggest marketing machine behind them. Last year, Ellie Goulding won. The year before, Little Boots. That says it all really. However, there are always a few interesting, and actually good smaller artists that manage to squeeze on the list- Gold Panda and Joy Orbison last year for example. This year there are a handful artists in the list who, although it’s meant to be about 2011, have actually already created some of the best songs of 2010.

See the complete Sound of 2011 list here.

BTSTU by Jai Paul

If music like this song by the definitely J-Dilla influenced londoner Jai Paul is what we can expect more of, then 2011 will be une belle année. We won’t be doing a ‘Best tracks of 2010′ list here on Les Flâneurs, but if we were this would be fighting for the top spot.

Limit To Your Love and CMYK by James Blake

If we are to take the ‘Sound of ‘ list at face value, then the solo male producer/singers making electronic soul and ‘post-dubstep’ (can music journalists please invent a more interesting title if you insist on forcing artists into your own fabricated genres) will dominate whatever it is that people on this list are meant to dominate in the world of music. Certainly not mainstream radio play. The living rooms of music industry and media types? Jai Paul, Daley, Jamie Woon and this guy all fall loosely into that category but Blake perhaps is the most rounded as these two songs prove. CMYK is a Kelis vocal sampling dubstep/house crossover in the vein of two of last year’s ‘Sound of’ artists- Gold Panda and Joy Orbison. Whereas, on Fiest cover Limit To Your Love Blake shows off his own tender vocal talent backed by minimalist piano and electronics to really heighten the lyrics of the song. The truthful idea that someone you love will only love and care for you to a certain point and that you are aware of this really hits home hard. His version is truly heart-wrenching.

Punching A Dream by The Naked And Famous

Ok, this band is nothing more than an Antipodean Passion Pit rip-off and this song certainly doesn’t push the boundaries of new music but hey, it’s lot of fun. And isn’t that the most important thing…

Traktor by Wretch 32

You can tell that the majority of people involved with compiling the ‘Sound of’ list every year are white and middle class as there will usually only be one token black British mc. Last year it was Giggs. This year it’s Wretch 32. Definite ‘cross over potential’ (a term always bandied around during these sort of things) but perhaps Dels would have been a more interesting choice.

Undertow by Warpaint

The all female group is one of only two US bands on the list and also the best guitar band.


CultPops November

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cluster Articles, Front Page | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

skins_us_cast_mtv-01‘Oh, look how cool and f*****d up they look. I bet this is going to be a good show.’

Paris Blue by Lykke Li

God, we love Lykke Li here at Les Flâneurs. Yet, not too sure about new single Get Some. This, the b-side to that track, makes up for it however. Plus, we always appreciate a bit of l’amour parisien.

Not In Love by Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith

It’s clearly not friday because the  Cure frontman is not in love. Instead he’s provided some actual singing to the normally shouty electronic songsmiths Crystal Castles. Raise your hands in the air for the trance-like chorus.

Never Stop Dancing by Golden Bug ft. Esser

Beautiful, glorious, intriguing dance tune with a funny video. What more could you ask for in music for the internet age?

Another Year by Mike Leigh

Yes, we know. Everyone’s banging on about it but that’s because it really is that good.

Anti-CultPops: Skins US

As if the UK version wasn’t crap enough these days, America shows just how shit the teenage drama can be. And they’ve done it by remaking the first series, which was actually fairly good. Surely, it couldn’t be too hard to get right? Yet from the look of the trailer, they seem to have seriously bollocksed it up. Congratulations US remakes, you’ve done it again.


EL GUINCHO – BOMBAY

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Hitlist | Tags: , | Comments Off

Barcelona’s king of tropical electro rainbow pop returns with the first single from his second album. What a song. What a video…


Favourite Five…Breakage Remixes

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cluster Articles, Front Page | Tags: , , | Comments Off

The most melodic, emotive and soulful sub-bass player around. Here’s 5 of his best vocal re-edits… each one puts the original song to shame.

1. MELANIE FIONA – It Kills Me

2. PLAN B – Prayin’

3. FLORENCE + THE MACHINE – Dog Days Are Over

4. DAVID GUETTA Ft. ESTELLE – One Love

5. ZARIF – Over

Breakage’s second album Foundations is out now.


KELE – Everything You Wanted

Posted: July 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Hitlist | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Nothing original about this but when you’re a bit tipsy at a summer bbq, on a balmy evening with your friends, it’s mighty good anthemic dance-pop fun.


CultPops August I

Posted: July 31st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Cluster Articles, Front Page | Tags: , | Comments Off

l_18ebfca7b8d04bfdbc7d6e7a18f3e5a5 Best Coast

Katy on a mission by Katy B;

Boyfriend by Best Coast;

After Dark by The Count and Sinden;

Wanderland by Hermanos Inglesos;

Tell ‘Em by Sleigh Bells;

Groove Me by Maximum Balloon/Theophilus London.


Mercury Music Prize 2010

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Articles/Reviews, Front Page | Tags: , , | Comments Off

Dylan Mills in his younger, pre-pop days.

Dylan Mills in his younger, pre-pop days.

The default position for ‘alternative’ music lovers and bands is to self-righteously bang on about how music isn’t a competition, especially around the time of mainstream award ceremonies. Then, when the nominations for the Mercury music prize for best British album of the year are released, the clichés about how ‘winning doesn’t matter’ and that ‘it’s just about the music, man’ are strained to breaking point and the unconcerned façade often slips from the more fame hungry artists: just look at Florence’s forced smile after she lost to Speech Debelle last year. So now that time of year has come around again, lets see who is in the running to be crowned champion of Critically Acclaimed UK Music 2010.

If it were decided by sales or number 1 singles, then Dizzee Rascal would be the clear winner. However, the Mercury Prize isn’t meant to be about commercial success, rather the quality of the music*, which often does not tend to be very high in mainstream pop records, and on the whole Tongue N’ Cheek is a mainstream pop record. More importantly, there are a lot of critics who would say that Tongue N’ Cheek is, from a musical point of view, a big drop-off in Dizzee’s career. So why has it been nominated for the Mercury? Could it be that the judges are trying to give continued support to an artist who they first brought to the wider public’s attention when awarding him the prize for his dark debut Boy In Da Corner in 2003? So as to protect him from the curse of the Mercurys which has befallen previous winners such as M People, Gomez and that bloke with the Indian name what won it 1999? A bit like a football club will try and look after the education of a youngster that they’ve released to make sure he doesn’t fall into a life of crime. Probably not considering that win was seven years ago, since when he’s gone from strength to strength and is now the biggest pop star in the country. But that’s a story in itself. Dylan Mills certainly hasn’t gone the easiest route to the highest peaks of pop; he’s done it on his own label, Dirtee Stank, (having left XL after Maths and English) which is a very commendable achievement. For an independent British rapper, to have five number ones, and play two huge shows on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury within a year would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. Now though, largely thanks to Mr Mills, the UK charts and subsequently, festivals have been overtaken by British rappers from Plan B to Tinchy Stryder, Kano to Chipmunk. Some inconsistent (Kano), some of it dire (Chipmunk), and some brilliant (Tinie Tempah), UK pop music has gone through a massive transition period in the last couple of years and Dizzee Rascal is the figurehead, even if he perhaps shouldn’t be its spokesperson (as exemplified here).

Nevertheless, no matter what he’s done in terms of changing the landscape of pop, even if it is for the better, we return to the first point: why is a pop album being considered for the Mercury? Well, for starters, (if we discard the cynics view that his nomination is purely to attract more commercial interest to the ceremony) the official website says that the prize “celebrates music of all genres by British or Irish artists”, so there’s no real reason why pop music should be excluded. Moreover, ever since it decided to take its influences from dance a couple of years ago, having exhausted R’n’B, UK pop music has been on an exciting upward curve and a lot more inventive than a lot of music genres. But at the end of the day, no matter how praiseworthy the state of chart-pop music is, and no matter how much Dizzee is to thank for that (or not depending on your view of modern pop), as an isolated recorded piece of music, Tongue N’ Cheek is a bit crap.

Clearly, if the Mercury should go to the album that most encapsulates the sound of the year then The Xx should win (for these previously stated reasons), but that doesn’t always happen, just ask The Streets. Everything is going so well for The Xx at the moment though that winning the prize wouldn’t much change the trajectory of their already stratospheric ascent. More worthwhile winners would be Wild Beasts who deserve wider recognition for their second album Two Dancers: an intelligent collection of songs of real beauty that asks questions of the listener whilst retaining the tunes. Something Foals probably think they’ve made, and to an extent they have, for Total Life Forever is very good but not as original as Two Dancers or as innovative as the slightly pretentious Oxford boys probably think it is. Similarly to Wild Beasts, Villagers’ Becoming A Jackal is an album that more people need to be aware of.

The most well known name on the list is Paul Weller, but his is not a symbolic nomination in respect of the longevity of his career; Wake Up The Nation is there on merit. The Motown-sounding single No Tears To Cry alone is so good that it would put any LP it was on in contention. At the other end of the scale the least well known name is, as always, the token jazz entry, which this year comes from Kit Downes Trio. In between is a bunch of credible but not groundbreaking records. The important thing is that whoever is nominated for the award, and whatever the judges are looking for, the Mercury Prize should be applauded for celebrating the art of the album in the age of the iPod shuffle.

Mercury Music Prize Nominees 2010: Becoming A Jackal by Villagers; Total Life Forever by Foals; Tongue N’ Cheek by Dizzee Rascal; I Speak Because I Can by Laura Marling; Wake Up The Nation by Paul Weller; Sigh No More by Mumford And Sons; The Xx by The Xx; Two Dancers by Wild Beasts; Only Revolutions by Biffy Clyro; Golden by Kit Downes Trio; Sky At Night by I Am Kloot; The Sea by Corrine Bailey Rae.

Alternative Mercury List: One Life Stand by Hot Chip; Black Light by Groove Armada; The Defamation of Strickland Banks by Plan B; A Brief History Of Love by The Big Pink; Kings And Queens by Jamie T; Hidden by These New Puritans; Acolyte by Delphic; There Is Love In You by Four Tet; Compass by Jamie Lidell; Further by The Chemical Brothers; Heligoland by Massive Attack; The First Days Of Spring by Noah And The Whale.

If America had an equivalent: Teen Dream by Beach House; Wave Like Home by Future Islands; This Is Happening by Lcd Soundsystem; High Violet by The National; Contra by Vampire Weekend; A Sufi And A Killer by Gonjasufi; Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus; OddBlood by Yeasayer; New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh) by Erykah Badu, Treats by Sleigh Bells; Embryonic by The Flaming Lips; I’m New Here by Gil Scott-Heron.

This Page Photograph: Linda Nylind , Front page photograph: AFP

* That doesn’t always hold true though. They nominated Apache Indian in 1993 and Take That in 1994.


Ramona Falls, The Only Prescription To Your Fever

Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Articles/Reviews, Front Page | Tags: , | Comments Off

New video : “I Say Fever” from the band’s debut album Intuit.


Why The xx Is The Best Debut Album of 2009

Posted: November 12th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Articles/Reviews, Front Page | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

thexx

It’s been out for a few months now and is one of the most hyped albums of the year, with glowing reviews coming from all corners of the press. So it should be time to give these four moody youths from Putney, south London a bit of breathing space. But instead I shall continue to suffocate them with enthusiastic praise, and state my case as to why these kids who sound like an even sulkier and more lovesick version of the Cure playing Beyoncé covers in a very dark basement have made the album which best encapsulates what it is to be a teenager in Britain 2009.

As soon as you listen to this record you are undeniably confronted with the fact that this is a product of teenagers who have grown up in noughtie’s Britain.  The amalgamation of shimmering indie guitar lines and vocals reminiscent of American pop r’n’b demonstrates the influence of the two genres that have had the biggest impact on the UK chart this decade. These styles of music have been inescapable over the last 10 years and their chart success is evidently a strong indication that they are the genres that have had the most widespread effect on British youths.

Yes, the xx are probably best described, though only in a very broad sense, as an indie band due to the guitar being at the forefront of their sound and the goth cloud that covers them. Yet, as adolescents of the noughties they also show, through the vocal melodies and the freedom of the bass lines throughout the song structures, how much of an effect American pop r’n’b has had on their musical upbringing.

The rejection of live drumbeats in favour of samplers and drum machines is another example of musicians brought up on modern US hip-hop. More importantly though it shows the continued ‘electronic danceification’ of indie guitar bands in the last few years to the extent that definitions of what is purely indie music and what is dance music or electronic music have become pleasantly blurred. This has a lot to do with the mass of dance remixes for indie acts that are so heavily promoted on the blogosphere meaning that these days, genres of dance music have just as much, if not even more of a presence as guitar bands in the life of the average hipster. And in this vein, it is a sound born much closer to home than stateside rap, a sound that lays underneath all the xx’s songs, that teenagers in the UK today will feel most affinity with.

Dubstep is quickly becoming the most important musical sub-culture for today’s download generation in this country and is now spreading all over the western world. The slow-burning, dark, spooky atmosphere that is the prevalent quality of the genre is there to hear in all 11 tracks of the xx’s debut album. Only British teenagers themselves could produce a record with these influences, mainstream and underground, that are so in touch with a diverse range of teenagers across the country.

The xx treat these different stylistic influences with great craftsmanship. They don’t just try and stuff different genres into a bag, then smack it about a bit to see if it works. They make very collected, precise, unpretentious music that carefully thinks about how to employ its influences. That’s not to say that this is clinical, soulless music, in fact it is quite the opposite. It is one of the most emotional and soulful pop releases of the year and this is where it connects with an adolescent audience.

All the songs on this album are about teenage sexuality and the fragility that this involves. The lyrics talk about ‘giving it up on Thursday’ and of naïve girls that want to be loved and wonder whether that they ‘can make it better with the lights turned off’. The beautiful tenderness with which female singer Romy delivers these lines creates the sensation that we’re hearing something incredibly private, the brittle, innermost thoughts of a teenage girl. Coincidentally, this theme of ‘not a girl, not yet a woman’, as Britney so intelligently put it back in the day, also picks up on a current worldwide trend in cinema of uneasy, female coming-of-age films such as ‘An Education’, ‘Precious’, ‘She’ and ‘Fishtank’.

Clearly, this record is the year’s best account of teenage life. But I will go further and say that this is, overall, the best debut album of 2009. This is due to the simple fact that the xx have written 11 remarkable sounding songs which together define the end of decade zeitgeist but moreover, have the quality to still sound incredible in 10, 20 years time. If I’m wrong I give you my permission to smack my future self in the mouth and tell me not to get ahead of myself when it comes to the importance of moody youths.