Wednesday, October 31, 2007

DJ Johan Agebjorn

Johan Agebjorn, the Swedish composer, producer and dj, has released a tremendous new mix, made up mainly of songs by female singers, including one by the great Sally Shapiro, who's album, Disco Romance, he produced and mostly wrote.
I have blogged about both Johan and Sally Shapiro several times in the past year, because I think they are two of the most talented artists I have come across in a long time.
Here is the track list for the "Pig Radio Mix:"
1. Mylène Farmer - L'Ame-Stram-Gam (1999)
2. Sophie Rimheden feat. Annika Holmberg - Can You Save Me? (Mont Ventoux Remix) (2005)
3. Cloetta Paris - I Miss You Someone (2007)
4. Sally Shapiro - I Know (2006)
5. Souvenir - Allô allô (Johan Agebjörn remix) (2007)
6. Ercola feat. Annie - Follow Me (Original Club Mix) (2007)
7. Mikado - Romance (1983)
8. Ingela Renliden - Dockans Man (1967)

Johan Agebjorn and Sally Shapiro - Pig Radio Cast

Sally Shapiro's album, Disco Romance, has just been released in the USA, wuth several cuts not on the European release. It's available via Amazon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Heart Strings/Jens Lekman

Last year, while browsing around on MySpace, I came across the website of an English band called the Hot Air Balloonists. Their site featured a great song called "Cosmos," which I posted here. One of this blog's readers did a little research and found out that the Hot Air Balloonists was actually the alter ego of a band called the Heart Strings.
Several weeks ago, the Heart Strings' manager, Paul Devaney, sent me a promo copy of the band's first album, entitled try fly blue sky.
The album lives up to all the expectations created by "Cosmos." It is gorgeous pop music, reminiscent of everyone from Badfinger to the McCoys to the great (unknown) '70's pop band the Movies, yet utterly original and definitely grounded in the 21st century.
The Heart Strings - Nina and Her Very Long Hair
try fly blue sky is currently available for download only. You can get it at Itunes.
The similarity in song titles is as good excuse as any to post something from the wonderful new Jens Lekman album, Night Falls Over Kortedala, one of the best albums of the year.
I won't say anything about "A Postcard to Nina." Just listen.
Jens Lekman - A Postcard to Nina
Night Falls Over Kortedala is available from Amazon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

San Francisco Sound

As part of their Nuggets series, Rhino Records has just released Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970, a four-cd box set that features songs by Bay Area pre-hippy garage bands as well as some post-1967 bands like the Great Society, Janis Joplin and Santana.
This is not a set I will be buying. After a brief infatuation with San Francisco music as an adolescent, when I happily bought into the myth of a rock music-led revolution, I got the hippy ethos out of my system when I made a post-high school pilgrimage to Mecca and found not peace and love but street criminals, speed freaks and bad LSD.
However, the release of the set is a good excuse to post a couple of songs by two San Francisco bands I actually like a lot.
The first is "Don't Talk to Strangers," by the Beau Brummels, a song actually featured on the Rhino set. Written by the band's guitarist, Ron Elliott, "Don't Talk to Strangers" is grounded in Byrds-like folk rock but morphs into a powerhouse garage rock masterpice during the chorus. The song is driven by the vocals of Sal Valentino, one of the best American rock singers of the 1960's. And it doesn't hurt that it was produced by the premier San Francisco music producer at the time, Sylvester Stewart, who would later change his name to Sly Stone.
The second song is "It's a Beautiful Day Today," by Moby Grape, from their 1969 album, 1969. Moby Grape was as badly over-marketed and overhyped as Boston's Ultimate Spinach, but they had ten times the talent. Unfortunately, Columbia Records was so anxious to ride the wave of the "San Francisco Sound," that they ruined whatever chance the Grape had for commercial success. The record company did brilliant things like simultaneously releasing five singles from the debut album, and of course, all of them tanked, including the still-amazing "Omaha."
By the time 1969 came out, Moby Grape had been forgotten by everyone from the record company to the public. That's too bad, because the album was a brilliant example of WestCoast down tempo folk rock.
"It's a Beautiful Day Today" has always been a favorite song of mine. I've never been sure if the band really means what they are singing or if the song's true meaning is more accurately reflected in the incredibly melancholy melody, emphasized beautifully by the lonesome whistle bridge in the middle of the song.

The Beau Brummels - Don't Talk to Strangers
Moby Grape - It's a Beautiful Day Today

"Don't Talk to Strangers" is featured on several Beau Brummels greatest hits albums, available on Amazon. Check out the Sal Valentino/Beau Brummels website.
"It's a Beautiful Day Today" is available on 1969, which is being reissued in an expanded version next month, and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Scandinavian Pop

I don't think there is any geographic area putting out as much interesting music right now as Scandinavia, more particularly Sweden and most particularly, the city of Gothenburg, where every resident must be in a band and have a MySpace site.
Most of the music is melodic pop with roots in the Indie pop of 1980's England. (Some call it twee - one blog referred to current Swedish pop music as "Swee.")
But even in that context, many artists are finding ways to either subvert the genre or totally modernize it. (The two most striking examples are Sally Shapiro and her producer, Johann Agebjorn, and the post modern crooner, Jens Lekman, who's album Night Falls Over Kortedela, has been alternating with the latest Okkervil River album as my favorite of 2007.)
Scandinavian pop is like music porn. Once you start listening, you can't stop. I find myself at my computer, late at night, the lights off, everyone else asleep, with headphones on, frantically clicking from one MySpace site to another, listening to snippet after snippet of brilliant pop music from one band from Gothelberg after another.
Here are songs from two of the (at the moment) more obscure of the many amazing bands that make up the population of that city.

The Dreamers - All Across This City

Boat Club - Warmer Climes

Boat Cub on MySpace. The Dreamers on MySpace.