Archive for April 2010
Oh, Kate Nash. We reveled in your 2007 debut Made of Bricks, with your chirpy, British-accented tales of disappointment in love and loser guys who get sick on your trainers [American: Sneakers]. Nash’s sophomore album, My Best Friend is You, brings more of the same, plus some lush strings and horns, thanks to production by Britpop veteran Bernard Butler of Suede. From her lyrics, Nash seems to have seen plenty of pain, but there’s enough humor and self-assertion to save the songs from the realm of pity party. Here in New York, Nash played the Bowery Ballroom last night and plays Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow, both sold out shows.
(Come for the drinks, Stay for the music)
Joe Montana might wear those stupid “exercise” shoes these days, but we all know that’s just for the cash. Back in the day, he was one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, rivaling Dan Marino and John Elway for a spot on the bedroom wall of boys around the country during the late 1980s and appearing on SNL in Sincere Guy Stu. Pertinent to our discussion of cocktails, however, he is also a discriminating tippler, known to favor the subject of this week’s post… the Jack Rose. Rachael Maddow is also a fan, apparently, but there’s no way I’m going to focus on her over the man who threw The Catch.
1 ½ oz. Apple Jack
There has been a great deal written regarding the explosion of indie music from Sweden over the last five years, and understandably so; from The Knife to Peter Bjorn & John to, most recently, The Tallest Man on Earth, Swedish artists have increasingly become American critical darlings. Indeed, to read much that has been written, you might be led to believe that the land of Carl Gustaf XVI just discovered the concept of sequencing pitched sounds during the 21st century. Such a perspective sadly sells short the history of Swedish pop music, but also fails to recognize the fact that Swedish music trends have in fact mirrored our own for over 30 years.
The typical narrative of Swedish music goes thusly: “There was ABBA, they were quite popular with people like John McCain but not anyone you’d hang out with, then there was nothing for decades, then they were on our TV shows.” The truth however, is much more complex: Swedish pop music has been omnipresent in our own musical landscape since the time of ABBA; indeed, it has been a reflection of the landscape. When we have found our music scene blemished, therefore, we have chosen not to take notice of Sweden’s
While their aesthetic significance is questionable at best, ABBA’s historical significance cannot be denied. They were more responsible than only other artist for the transition of glam-rock to disco in the mid-1970s. It is understandable if after this transition, we all tried to pretend we didn’t know if bands were from Sweden. Nonetheless, they didn’t leave us alone. In the midst of the hair-metal craze of the mid-1980s, the Swedish band Europe made an indelible mark on our popular culture. During the same time period, while Madonna and Wham! were popping up our radio waves, Swedish group Roxette was having an impact of its own.
It is understandable why we tried not to acknowledge Sweden during this period. When our own music became a tad less cheesy, so did theirs, and we started paying attention again. For example, in the mid-1990s, with an upwelling of literate female-driven pop occurring in America, Swedish darlings The Cardigans to rose to prominence; with the birth of the so-called “garage rock revivial” of the early 2000s, The Hives gained some measure of fame. Since this time, and particularly in the last five years, we’ve continued to see Swedish music serve as model and inspiration for our own. From the folk musing of Jose Gonzalez (reflected in those of Bon Iver), to the blissed-out electronic compositions of Air France (clear relatives of buzz-worthy Neon Indian), to the clever songs of Jens Lekman (the true heir to The Magnetic Fields), Swedish music continues to inform and be informed by our own. Just because this phenomenon is à la mode, however, don’t be lead to believe that it is a recent development.
Some Swedish favorites from recent weeks/months/years:
The Tallest Man on Earth – Kids on the Run
Some words of encouragement to the citizens of Barcelona today after their home team’s crushing loss to Inter Milan. Apologies to our significant Madrileña fanbase:
(p.s. – they’re actually Swedish)
At the time of his recent passing, Sparklehorse mastermind Mark Linkous (briefly memorialized in an earlier post) had completed work on a collaborative project with Danger Mouse and David Lynch called Dark Night of the Soul. After a protracted legal battle with EMI records, the record is set for (now posthumous) release on July 13 in the US. The record is meant to be accompanied by a 100-page book of photos taken by Lynch; sadly this book was limited to 5000 copies and has sold out in its initial run. As for the record itself, it features guest appearances from a wide range of vocalists including Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, The Shins’ James Mercer, Cardigan’s lead vocalist Nina Persson, Iggy Pop, Black Francis, and David Lynch himself singing the title track. The entire album is available for live-streaming here; we’ve included FP’s favorite track from the record (featuring Julian Casablancas of The Strokes) below:
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Little Girl (featuring Julian Casablancas)
Speaking of love, here’s the latest from Lupe Fiasco: “Love Letter to the Beat.” Featuring Alicia Keys and produced by Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, this track may be on the forthcoming album Lasers. LF is now on tour with B.o.B, whose album was released today. (See this morning’s FP post for the B.o.B. Vampire Weekend mashup).