Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Popheaval's Best of 2013: #10-1




Alright, I think it's about time to list the remaining half of my Best of 2013 listing. If you haven't seen the first half (#20-11) yet, you can find it over here. But now, let's get on with it - here's my top ten of 2013!



Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Xmas (Says My Blog Message)

Hooray, we've almost tackled year 2013 already and it's finally Christmas time! It's that time of the year when you're allowed to just kick back and relax, spend quality time with your nearest and dearest until the point of frustration and feast like all you want for Christmas is type 2 diabetes.

Christmas-themed movies tend to be rather drenched in romance and larger-than-life love stories so unless you have that special someone to hold on to while lounging about in front of the telly, you might feel that certain aching feeling deep within your chest and no, I'm not talking about cholesterol. Then again, you might also have experienced a holiday season heartbreak which would help you identify with Wham's ever-so-popular "Last Christmas". Indeed, pop music has given us a plethora of modern Christmas songs to bob our heads (or channel our disappointment) to, but while these songs are nowadays part of the whole "Christmas experience", they are the same bloody songs year after year after year. And you do grow weary of them, don't you. ("All I Want For Christmas" is never going to get old, though.)

So should you be looking for a new song to add to your Christmas pop canon, here's Canadian electro-poppers Dragonette with their 2012 single "Merry Xmas (Says Your Text Message)". Thematically it follows in the vein of "Last Christmas": one year ago, the storyteller was totally shagging someone but after being treated in a shitty way, now wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire. (That's obviously not the actual lyrics.) "Last December I remember when / you said you wanna give me everything / Now I look forward to / celebrate New Year without you". And singer Martina Sorbara's lyrics give you one example of how to deal with it: "Merry Xmas says your text message / But you're late by a  day or two / so mine says thanks a lot and fuck you"

So there you have it. Fuck them and enjoy the magic of Christmas time! Remember to watch a lot of movies such as Love Actually and eat excessive amounts of chocolate. There's never too much chocolate. Hang out with your family and friends, and make sure there's always at least one board game on the table being played. Remember to relax, take it easy and make the most of it the way that pleases you the most!

Merry Christmas everybody!





P.S. The second half of my Best of 2013 list will follow... shortly.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Popheaval's Best of 2013: #20-11.



The end of the year is drawing near and you know what that means - best of lists! Yay, amirite? (Also, this is my 100th blog post! This calls for celebration.) And no music blogger would be credible without one of their own so... here's mine. It certainly wasn't an easy task to try and narrow down the best songs of a whole year into a set amount, let alone rank them. I was considering all these different kinds of brackets to do the job for me but ultimately ended up with an unbribable scoreboard (THAT TOOK AGES TO FILL). And of course I forgot to save it and then accidentally deleted the whole thing, having to do it all over again...

Phew, it sure took some time. And innumerable replays of songs. The face-offs were tough, but here's the final results. Lists like this are obviously highly subjective since they are merely a matter of personal taste (I didn't give two fucks about chart positions or commercial success). I have also probably missed a myriad of excellent songs - I've spent the whole past year discovering amazing songs from 2012 that I had totally overlooked in my last year's list. Furthermore, in order to prevent the list from becoming too monotonous and consisting of multiple songs from same artists/albums, I chose to use only one song/main artist.

There will also be another post on special mentions, but here's the first part of my final list with the final order - are you ready?

Here we go!


Friday, 13 December 2013

One For The Weekend: 'Passionate Ones' by We Are Legends feat. Artymove



Do you guys still remember Artymove, the Swedish indie pop band that I once briefly wrote about? I found out about them when they were opening up for the marvellous electropop group Dragonette last December and was instantly captivated by their material. Well, if you liked their music, good news: they've got a new song out! Kind of. Actually it's the latest tune by the Gothenburg-based electronic music duo We Are Legends but it does feature Artymove frontwoman Mathilda Lindgren in the vocals. It's a catchy house track with a strong '90s feel to it that instantly grew on me, so I was thinking it would make a lovely addition to your weekend playlist. You're welcome!





For more recent Artymove collaborations, check out the following track: this one's a more experimental but an equally fascinating tune with the Tokyo-based producer Jeannie. Gosh, I love these both. New music sure is always exciting!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Robyn and Röyksopp announce a joint tour, work on new material



HOLY. MOTHER. OF. GOD.

The Swedish queen of 21st century electropop Robyn and the Norwegian electronic music wizards Röyksopp are going to embark on a tour. Together. Yes. And no, that's not all - they're even working on new music together, as confirmed by Robin on her Twitter account:




Okay, how marvellous is that. Only three concert dates have been revealed so far - they're playing the Northside Festival in Aarhus, Denmark; the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, UK and the Øyafestivalen in Oslo, Norway - but there's more dates to be announced. I'm so hyped up already: I've seen both artists perform the anthemic "The Girl And The Robot" live but now there is a possibility to actually see them share the stage during the song? Also, it's been quite a while since we've heard anything of Robyn so it's great to get her back. And it seems that Robyn + Röyksopp is a match made in heaven - just listen to their previous collaborations "The Girl And The Robot" and "None Of Dem". They're cordially invited to blow my mind with new stuff anytime.











And this is how incredible the three sound live. Brace yourselves!



Monday, 9 December 2013

The most bizarre music news of the year: 'Home Alone'-star Macaulay Culkin has started a pizza-related Velvet Underground cover band.



Um, yeah. The Velvet Underground was a massively influential alternative rock band in the '60s/'70s who served as an inspiration for whole generations of new musicians, ranging from the likes of David Bowie, Patti Smith and Roxy Music to Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Nirvana. Among others. Their debut album only sold 30,000 copies but it was once famously said by English music pioneer Brian Eno that "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band." And now you can add Macaulay Culkin of Home Alone fame to the list.

Culkin, who once struggled with a serious drug addiction has now apparently found inspiration in the New York-spawned experimental rock band whose lyrics were not at all unfamiliar with the destructive hedonism of the infamous "drugs, sex & rock n' roll" lifestyle. So he started a Velvet Underground / Lou Reed tribute band, with a twist. A pizza twist. Indeed, the pizzafied song titles appearing on their demo tape include "Papa John Says" ("Stephanie Says"), "I'm Waiting For Delivery Man" ("I'm Waiting For The Man"), "Take a Bite of the Wild Slice" ("Take A Walk On The Wild Side") and "All The Pizza Parties" ("All Tomorrow's Parties"). You can't really blame them for being unimaginative! Oh, and the name of the band? The Pizza Underground. 

Is it any good? Oh god no. But it's still kind of hilarious in a strangest of ways so don't take it too seriously - you can listen to the tape below!


Friday, 6 December 2013

Happy Independence Day, Finland!



The Maiden of Finland is a grand old lady now, turning 96 and all! Incidentally, this is my 96th blog post. How coincidental (and not at all deliberate) is that! Now, the chances are if you're from outside of Finland, you don't know much about the Finnish Independence Day (and why should you, come to that). Unlike in the States, for example, where their respective Independence Day is celebrated with spectacular fireworks and other festive things and where a majority of my readers come from, in Finland the day is a rather solemn one. Being a national holiday, people tend to stay home and spend time with their families and friends, lighting blue and white candles, perhaps having a festive dinner together and watching TV.

One reason for the solemnity and the lack of merry festivities is probably the fact that while Finland did get its independency in peaceful circumstances, the country has had to defend that independency on many occasions, and defending it has often been costly. Finland's participation in World War II is a prime example. There's actually a black-and-white movie called The Unknown Soldier (1955), that's based on a novel of the same name, that tells the story of the Continuation War between Finland and the then-existing Soviet Union, and the movie is a traditional must-see for Finns every Independence Day. The movie, perhaps due to its significance in the canon of the Finnish myth, is in fact the most-viewed Finnish film of all time.

Another and a considerably more lighthearted must-see is the 'Castle Ball', where the president hosts a big reception at the Presidential Palace for 2,000 people, including the parliament, previous presidents and prime ministers, generals, diplomats and distinguished celebrities such as actors, musicians and athletes, among others. Highlights include collectively judging all the women's dresses from your own sofa (seriously, the next day the papers publish like, extensive articles on the subject) and watching the presidential couple begin the first dance, traditionally a waltz danced to "The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss II. Some of the afterparties are also televised so you even get a chance to snigger at tipsy celebs.

But enough of culture and history, this is a music blog, right? And considering I'm a Finn myself so you'd probably expect me to use the opportunity to promote some Finnish music, but I won't do that, tempting as it is - wouldn't that be just a tad too easy? Instead, I'll leave you with the following song. It's not Finnish, even though the name of the song is indeed "Finland", but it's actually by the English musician/producer YILA who makes up 50% of the exciting jazzy glitch-pop duo Aloosh. The song appears on his unfinished and officially unreleased album (that can still be listened to and downloaded for free on his Soundcloud page). For some reason, whenever I'm feeling a bit homesick, it is this song that I turn to for instant relief. I don't know the story behind the song but to me, the song captures the country and its spirit in a wonderful way and, might I say, better than many Finnish acts do.

So there you go. I like my country like I like my music - independent. All you Finns and Finland-minded, hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää!



Thursday, 5 December 2013

Now even Lana Del Rey announces a new album?

Seriously, I'm naming this week the official 'New Album Announcement Week': first Band of Skulls, then , and now even Lana Del Rey has said words about a forthcoming album. Well, to be honest, the only thing she did reveal was the album title Ultraviolence but that's more than nothing at all and hey, at least it's now confirmed that the Tropico film project will not be marking an end to her music career, but rather just serve as an end of an era. This was obviously suggested by the various leaked demos, too, but it's always nice to have something concrete to hold on to.

The album title was revealed by Lana herself at the premier of her short film Tropico, where she said the following words: "I really just wanted us all to be together so I could try and visually close out my chapter before I release the new record 'Ultraviolence'". Check out the Instagram video below for evidence! Furthermore, according to Twitter user Lana Del Rey News, she also confirmed the album title in a Youtube comment of which the user shared the following screen capture:


The term 'ultraviolence' - meaning excessive, unjustified violence - comes from the 1962 dystopia classic A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Perhaps the new record will be a concept album of some sort? Who knows, there's only so much you can predict from an album title alone. But there you have it: more's on the way!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

MØ announces debut album



The Danish up-and-coming pop songstress - whom I had the pleasure of seeing perform last week - has revealed new details about her forthcoming debut album! As you can see from the picture above, uploaded yesterday by MØ herself on her Facebook page, the album will be called No Mythologies To Follow and it will be out on the 24th of February. We now have a tracklist as well, and it is as follows:

"Fire Rides"
"Maiden"
"Never Wanna Know"
"Red in the Grey"
"Pilgrim"
"Don't Wanna Dance"
"Waste of Time"
"Dust Is Gone"
"XXX 88 (feat. Diplo)"
"Walk This Way"
"Slow Love"
"Glass"
"No Mythologies to Follow"
"Dummy Head
"The Sea"
"Gone and Found"
"Fire Rides (Night Version)"
"Dust Is Gone (Night Version)"
"Slow Love (Night Version)"
"The Sea (Night Version)"

Phew. As you might suspect, that'll be the tracklist of the deluxe edition - the "ordinary" version will be shorter, omitting the last eight tracks. It sounds plausible with the four alternative 'Night Version' thingies but to leave the title track off the album? Now that is a rather curious thing to do. Oh, and you can pre-order the Deluxe edition here while the regular one can be found here. You're welcome.

Another thing you might notice about the tracklist is that it includes many songs we've heard before: her debut single "Pilgrim" makes an appearance, and so do two other singles "Waste of Time" and "Glass" plus one half of the Bikini Daze EP ("XXX 88" and "Never Wanna Know"). That is to say, almost half of the 'normal' version of the album (5 tracks out of 12) will be songs that we've already heard before. That is not a negative thing per se, but the new songs must really be good enough to not be overshadowed by the older ones (well, "older" as in "released earlier this year"). I'm sure they will be brilliant, though, and I believe I did in fact hear a couple of the unreleased songs at the gig.

Anyway, what a promising week for exciting album news! First Band of Skulls, now MØ! And it's only Wednesday today...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

So, here's the new M.I.A. track.

After releasing her fourth LP Matangi a bit more than one month ago, M.I.A. announced that she would release a new song that will apparently serve as a Spotify-exclusive bonus track for the album. This morning she tweeted about the song, and it's available on Spotify now. Turns out it wasn't an entirely new track per se, as it rehashes elements - most notably, the lyrics - from the reggae-trap-hybrid "Double Bubble Trouble" (an album track from Matangi). It's called "Trouble Again" so the sample is kind of hinted in the song title. It's still more than just a slightly altered remake, though, so it provides her fans with something new to listen to. Would it have been better had it been a straightforward (and trap-less) reggae adaptation of the original song? Yes. But does it feel cheap? Thankfully no: it is different enough to stand on its own. And after all, it was stated to be 'just' an exclusive bonus song anyway so clearly it wasn't going to be a "Bad Girls pt. 2" or anything. Oh well. Here's the track, it's worth checking out nonetheless so go ahead:







In other news, another Matangi track "Y.A.L.A." was apparently released as a single, and a music video was subsequently filmed. The trippy, drenched-in-colour clip contains some flashing images, but as long as you're not prone to seizures or overly high on mushrooms, here you go:



Monday, 2 December 2013

Band of Skulls announce new album, release lead single



Good news for all you fans of actually good indie rock music - the incredible Band of Skulls revealed new details about their forthcoming album last night. The album will be called Himalayan and what you see above is the artwork of the album, probably by bassist/vocalist Emma Richardson like their previous album covers. The LP will be out March 31st next year but they did also upload one of the new tracks on Youtube. The song, likely the lead single of the album, is called "Asleep At The Wheel" and it's good. It sounds distinctively like Band of Skulls and has a nice progressive rock feel to it. Definitely worth checking out!







And there's even more: the band even released a tracklist for the new album on their Instagram page. How great is that! And to save you from unnecessary clicks and seconds of waiting - it is a hectic world we're living in - here's the tracklist:

"Asleep At The Wheel"
"Himalayan"
"Hoochie Coochie"
"Cold Sweat"
"Nightmares"
"Brothers And Sisters"
"I Guess I Know You Fairly Well"
"You Are All That I'm Not"
"I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead One Dying"
"Toreador"
"Heaven's Key"
"Get Yourself Together"

At least the first song of the 12-track album sounds amazing so I'm very much looking forward to it! Well, only four months to go, then...

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Siouxsie Sunday: 'The Thorn' EP by Siouxsie and the Banshees



After recording 1984's Hyæna album with Robert Smith of The Cure in the guitars, it was only a matter of time before Smith would focus on his own band again, effectively ending his tenure as a Banshee guitarist. Siouxsie herself has often brought up the band's unfortunate luck with their guitarists - they just kept losing them, one after another. The next guitar-wielding Banshee, John Valentine Carruthers was actually the band's sixth one in only eight years.

After Carruthers joined the group, they decided not to write a new album straight away, but to record an EP consisting of revamped versions of their older songs. On the one hand, the Banshees - whose core now firmly consisted of the holy trinity of Siouxsie, Severin and Budgie - wanted to use the EP as Carruthers' induction to the band, and on the other hand, experiment with string arrangements and re-record some older songs that had evolved into new versions on tour.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Happy Record Store Day, everybody!

And also, happy Black Friday to all you Thanksgiving celebrators! As you may or may not know, Record Store Day is a day that has been celebrated internationally ever since 2008 in order to commemorate independent record stores. The "main" Record Store Day actually takes place on the third Saturday or April but starting from 2010, there has also been an additional Black Friday version of the day. It is marked by a myriad of music-related events: concerts, gatherings, and special album releases, such as specific Record Store Day issues etc. I too was supposed to go to my favourite local store but unfortunately, the less-than-spectacular Danish weather got the best of me so I just came straight home to sulk instead. Too bad.

Anyway, I hope you've had a better whatever day it is you're celebrating, or, in case you're not celebrating anything at all, Friday. Here's a song from one of the Black Friday releases for your weekend: it's called "Guilty As Charged" and it's by Tegan and Sara, a Canadian indie pop duo consisting of identical twin sisters.





And in order to create your very own RSD shopping list, here's a list of all the releases, as reported by Spin:

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Went to see MØ yesterday, she was INSANE.

And when I say 'insane', I mean brilliantly insane in the best of ways. Not being overly familiar with her music I didn't really know what to expect but whatever I might had been expecting, she topped it big time. The gig was a blast, and here's my two pennies on it.

The gig was held at Musikhuset Posten in Odense, Denmark, with MØ (I'm not sure about the capitalisation so I'll just stick with the one used on Last.fm, my holy Bible of music) being supported by Sekuoia, a glitch-hop project of Copenhagen-based Patrick Alexander Bech-Madsen. I kind of missed the warm-up gig due to arriving late, though. I did manage to see the band's last song or two and while the music was interesting, it wasn't necessarily the best possible choice to open up for MØ - whereas the latter was zestful music to dance to, the former plays much calmer stuff, something you'd rather just chill out to. Outside of the context of a concert, however, Sekuoia's music is quite nice and relaxing - you might want to check his music out. "Evenings" is a personal favourite of mine.






But it was of course MØ that we were there for. While waiting for her gig to begin, I couldn't help noticing the huge amount of high ponytails, braids and hair buns in the audience - a probable reference to the singer's trademark hairstyle. Then again, this is Denmark and I'm starting to believe girls are actually born with their hair tied on a high bun as it tends to be the dominant female hairstyle here (as pointed out by Tumblr user Copenhannah in her hilarious post on how to look like a Dane). Another thing that I found particularly lovely was the diversity of the audience: while the majority obviously consisted of twenty-something hip concert-goers, there always seems to be the occasional older attender or two (or as in this case, like a dozen of them). This is a wonderful phenomenon I've noticed on several occasions, for example when going to that Porcelain Raft gig in Copenhagen a while ago. It's always great to see good music blur the lines between different segments and simply bring people together to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Review: 'Aloosh' EP by Aloosh



Would you like some exciting fresh, um, indie music to brighten up your day? Of course you do! And boy do I have a treat for you - here's Aloosh and their eponymous 2010 debut.

Now, the thing is, it's really tricky to try to pigeonhole Aloosh's sound. It's got nice, catchy melodies but it's not pop. It's got guitars too but it's hardly rock either. Some of the songs even have some electronic elements but... yeah, you get the point. One could simply call it 'indie' but as a matter of fact I've come to kind of hate the word. I mean, what does it even mean anymore? Originally it was used to refer to bands who released music on small, independent record labels with a DIY approach. Low budgets forced these bands to be creative, and they prided themselves on their autonomy and independence from the music industry that was mostly concerned with chart positions and album sales instead of artistic expression, creativity etc.

These days, however, almost anything can be called indie. People call even big (and not necessarily always that 'independent') music acts such as Arcade Fire, Muse and Lana Del Rey 'indie'. Hell, I once saw One Direction of all things being billed as indie! In other words, anything that feels different from the very limited idea of mainstream music is arbitrarily labelled as indie, which used to happen to the term 'alternative' as well (there was a time when all the rock acts seemed to play 'alternative rock', even the chart-topping ones, which does feel a bit contradictory). In essence, the problem is that 'indie' is referred to as if it were a genre of its own, which it obviously isn't. If I told you about a new band and only described it as 'indie', it would be kind of impossible for you to guess how the band actually sounds like - it could be anything from overaged garage rockers living in your neighbourhood to an experimental underground ukulele techno collective from Estonia. Subsequently, the word has suffered an atrocious inflation.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

M.I.A. announces a new exclusive song


Yesterday, eccentric music sensation M.I.A. revealed via her Facebook page that she's got a new song coming out next week. The song will apparently be a Spotify-exclusive, but that's about all we know about it so far - not even a song title has been unveiled. Also, it is currently unknown whether the song will be a stand-alone single (highly unlikely, considering her album was released only earlier this month) or perhaps a song recorded for an upcoming movie soundtrack or something, or if it'll appear as a bonus track on an expanded version of her latest LP Matangi. But next week we'll all be a bit wiser regarding this so stay tuned for more M.I.A.-related news and whatnot.

Hopefully it's a bit more in the style of "Bad Girls" and "Exodus"/"Sexodus" and a bit less like, say, "Y.A.L.A."

Monday, 25 November 2013

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Hyæna' by Siouxsie and the Banshees



After releasing the 1982's experimental A Kiss In The Dreamhouse, guitarist John McGeoch's alcoholism became too much of a burden to the band - he even collapsed onstage once - and he was then fired from the Banshees. Replacement was found in The Cure frontman Robert Smith who had previously played in the band in 1979, albeit only temporarily. This time, however, he wanted to document his stay as a Banshee, so after the group got back together (after the previous Banshee tour, Siouxsie and Budgie recorded their first Creatures LP Feast while Severin and Smith wrote a one-off album Blue Sunshine as The Glove) a live album Nocturne was recorded in 1983. But he also stayed onboard for a proper studio album which was released the following year. And this Sunday it's time to dig into that album, titled Hyæna.

Now, the funny thing is that you can actually hear Smith's influence on the album - at least compared to the other Banshee stuff before it. This is most evident on the lead single "Swimming Horses", whose piano riff could easily come from an eighties Cure track. There are also some other songs on the album that remotely bring to mind Smith's own band, such as The Top album, also released in 1984. The organ-led "Take Me Back" for instance is one of the more Cure-ish tunes here. That is not to say that the album would be some kind of a Cure pastiche, though, but rather a blending of two musical directions: that of Robert Smith, and that of The Banshees.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Trailer for Lana Del Rey's 'Tropico' goes online

That's right folks, Lana Del Rey's mysterious short film project thingy Tropico now has a trailer. We're still not exactly sure what it's supposed to be - Lana herself has called it a "farewell project" which could suggest a retirement from the music biz, but on the other hand, there has been a bunch of leaked songs that apparently were supposed to be on a new album. Go figure. Whatever it might be will be revealed on December 5, the release date announced in the trailer which was published today.

According to Vevo's own statement, the film will be "an epic tale based on the biblical story of sin and redemption and features Del Rey starring as Eve." So there you have it. Indeed, it features a lot of Christian imagery such as Lana holding an apple and facing a snake. There are also people firing guns and Lana working as a stripper, quite likely to emphasise the more sinful side of the story. What we do now is that it will feature music from her Paradise EP.

Personally I have a theory, of course. Lana Del Rey is an image, a persona built by Elizabeth Grant, an American singer-songwriter. Musicians often build these alter egos to create something larger than life, something iconic that will last even when the people behind them won't. And what is the best way for a musician to become immortal? Exactly, die young. If possible, join the infamous 27 Club, a group of artists who have died at the age of 27, including the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and more recently, Amy Winehouse. Then we have Tropico, a "farewell project" made by a singer who's - yes, you guessed right - currently 27 years old. I'm calling it: she's going to release the film, frame her own death, get her face operated beyond recognition (mostly by normalising her lips) and move to French Riviera to live a socialite life as "Hélène de la Croix" (or something like that) while being immortalised by the raving media, lamenting the untimely passing of the dramatic singer. Remember, you heard it here first!

Alright, jokes aside, here's the trailer. You might also want to check out the two teasers released earlier this autumn. The first one has Lana praying to John Wayne (?) while in the second one you can see her admiring Elvis, Marilyn and Jesus - or as she's stated before, her father, her mother, and her bestest friend.











Friday, 15 November 2013

Grace Jones has got a memoir in the making

That's right ladies and gentlemen: miss Grace Jones is writing a memoir! The 65-year-old pop icon (who still packs more punch than most of the other artists around) has apparently changed her mind, considering she had previously stated that she'd never write one - her song "Art Groupie" even begins with lines "I'll never write my memoirs / There's nothing in my book". What made her have a change of heart is not clear but the website Hinterland Gazette speculated that she wouldn't want an unauthorised memoir to be released  (which would probably be inevitable with someone with such a great legacy as Grace Jones).

And one could imagine she's got plenty of material to draw from. From a successful international modelling career and her disco years and hanging out at Studio 54 with the likes of Andy Warhol to becoming one of the most iconic pioneers of androgyny in popular culture and even an actress starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984's Conan the Destroyer and Roger Moore in 1985's Bond flick A View to a Kill, she's had quite a colourful life, wouldn't you say. And that's not even all, she made a musical comeback after 19 years of radio silence with the magnificent Hurricane in 2008 and, according to producer Ivor Guest's Tumblr page, is currently working on a follow-up album! So expect even more greatness from the legend that has influenced everyone from Annie Lennox and Róisín Murphy to Santigold and Rihanna.

And while you're waiting for the book (it's scheduled to come out next autumn), you can get a sneak peek (kind of) in the form of "Williams' Blood", the gorgeous gospel pop single from her comeback album with autobiographical lyrics.






You might also want to check out the Aeroplane remix of the song, it's quite nice as well!


Thursday, 14 November 2013

R.I.P. western black rhinos



Due to poaching and lack of conservation efforts, the western black rhino has been declared officially extinct.

According to Daily Mail, the rare subspecies of the black rhino was heavily hunted in the beginning of the 20th century, before actions were fortunately taken, leading to an increase in population. However, by the 1980s there were only hundreds of them left. Twenty years later, in 2000, there were no more than 10 western black rhinos remaining. The last time the species was spotted was in 2006.

Poaching makes a serious threat for other rhino species as well: only 40 to 60 Javan rhinos are left, living in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia, while the northern white rhino population of the planet totals at mere seven - two females, five males. Not looking very promising, is it. Experts say that unless something radical is done, the two species will follow the western black rhino to the heaven of animals, joining other hunted to death animals such as the dodo bird.

And since this is a music blog, here is a song I'll dedicate to the western black rhino. It's by a Brooklyn-based indie trio called Rhino House Band (can you see how it popped into my mind?). They are conversely only in the beginning of their career (and fortunately very much alive): the band was founded earlier this year and only has two songs out, though they also have an EP on the way. (It's out soon, according to their website where you can actually download those two said songs for free!) Personally I found them when they started following Popheaval's Tumblr page. And what would I not do to promote new music, right? Long live social media; sleep well, western black rhino, now "sleepin' in a dreamworld", to quote the lyrics. While the song has obviously nothing to do with the sad news, you can almost see the now extinct animals joyfully strolling the endless savannahs of Africa. Too bad that's history now.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Now Lily Allen returns PROPERLY to music with a new single!

Well whaddya know, just yesterday I wrote how Lily Allen recorded this year's John Lewis Christmas advert and today she released the - supposedly - lead single of her forthcoming album with a music video to boot! How great is that. The song is a danceable pop tune called "Hard Out Here" and tackles sexism in the music industry. It's got way too many witty lines about the subject to pick examples from, but when a song opens with lines like "I suppose I should tell you what this bitch is thinking / You find me in the studio and not in the kitchen" you know she's not playing around. "Don't need to shake my ass for you 'cause I've got a brain" she declares, before continuing to assault the double standards of the way people regard men and women's sexual behaviour, today's twisted beauty ideals, and what have you.

The music video centers around the same themes with the clip beginning with Allen lying on an operating table, being criticised because of her imperfect looks. Then the video depicts her living a gold-plated life and toying with a variety of sexual imagery - bananas, bottles of Champagne bursting open etc., before stating "and if you can't detect the sarcasm, you've misunderstood".

She also notably bashes the repulsive slimebag that is Robin Thicke in both the lyrics and the video: in the lyrics, there is a reference to one of the lines from "Blurred Lines" ("Have you thought about your butt / Who's gonna tear it in two?) while the video refers to the part of the aforementioned song's clip where Thicke declares owning a sizable reproductive organ.




Yeah, she's got a sharp tongue and she ain't afraid to use it - good ol' sweary Lily's back. Too bad the song is slightly watered down by the auto-tuned chorus but other than that, it's a classically sarcastic Lily Allen pop tune. And here's the music video, hear/see for yourself!


Lily Allen returns to music on John Lewis Christmas advert

So, Lily Allen's back with a cover of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" in this year's John Lewis Christmas advert "The Bear & The Hare". The song will probably be a contender for the Christmas number one single this year as the songs featured in the department store's Christmas adverts have tended to do well in the charts: English indie singer Gabrielle Aplin's cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s "The Power of Love" topped the UK Singles Chart last year (although not landing the coveted Christmas number one spot), while Ellie Goulding's cover of Elton John's "Your Song" peaked at #2 in 2010. Allen's chart performance remains to be seen (although you can already bet on her chart-topping chances with estimated odds of 7/1, apparently), but do enjoy this lovely ballad nevertheless.





As you might notice, it's not exactly your average Lily Allen song - no swearing, no sharp lyrics, no shade thrown at past boyfriends. Then again, it is a cover of another song. For a Christmas advert. Lily Allen telling people to fuck off and ridiculing their bedroom performance is hardly what you'd want from a festive tune, now is it.

Meanwhile, Allen has revealed she's working on a follow-up to 2009's It's Not Me, It's You. The album, described by Allen herself as "empowering" with "feminist vibes going on", is set for a 2014 release though no specific release date has been announced. Also, it is currently unknown whether "Somewhere Only We Know" will be included on the album and thus serve as the lead single or if it will remain a stand-alone release. Stay tuned for more related news!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Feast' by The Creatures



The John McGeoch era of the Banshees (Kaleidoscope in 1980, Juju in 1981 and A Kiss In The Dreamhouse in 1982) is seen by many as a golden age for the group. Indeed, the Banshees created some of their most essential work during that time, most notably the Juju album which helped to carve out a whole new genre. However, as Siouxsie herself once said during her Dreamshow concert, nothing lasts forever - and especially the good things. The Banshees had hard luck with guitarists, even with McGeoch, their most celebrated one: he was struggling with alcoholism and once even collapsed onstage during a concert. He was subsequently hospitalised and soon after, fired. Robert Smith of The Cure was re-recruited as a guitarist, something he had done already back in 1979 after the band split up while promoting Join Hands.

After finishing the tour, the band members engaged in separate side projects: Siouxsie and Budgie as The Creatures and Severin and Smith as The Glove, a psychedelic music project. Siouxsie and Budgie decided to select the place where they'd record the first Creatures LP by randomly placing a pin on a world map. They ended up recording the album in Hawaii and absorbed a lot of influences from the local scenery while writing the songs there. The Creatures' debut EP Wild Things proved that the duo was anything but predictable, and the statement was further strengthened by their highly experimental Feast LP.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Review: 'Samson & Delilah' by V V Brown



Things haven't gone exactly smoothly for V V Brown's musical career. After her retro-pop influenced debut album Travelling Like The Light in 2009, she was set to release a follow-up titled Lollipops & Politics in 2012. The concept album which would've dealt with political themes but with a pop-friendly approach (hence the somewhat awkward name) was actually recorded, and a lead single "Children" was released. However, even though the album was apparently finished and even a tracklist was revealed, she then decided to scrap the whole album, not being satisfied with the results and chose to return to the studio, creating another album from scratch. To the disappointment of her fans, the initial second album is likely to remain unreleased.

But the 'new second album' was more than worth the wait. Instead of sounding like Travelling Like The Light 2.0 which seemed rather inevitable with Lollipops & Politics and its lead single "Children", V V Brown takes us to a completely new direction with her brilliant Samson & Delilah. Biblical stories are often used as allegories for something else, and so it is also here: In V V Brown's version of events it is the music industry that is portrayed as the backstabbing, deceitful Delilah who betrays Samson, described by Brown as the exploited artist. That is essentially the concept around which the album was apparently built. Fittingly, the album release was preceded by lead single "Samson" that immediately told us that we were to expect something completely unexpected from her. Gone was the naive playfulness of her previous material. Instead, her music was now electronic-oriented, artistically ambitious and rather solemn.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Review: 'Pure Heroine' by Lorde



Now, if you've been following any music media lately you're already probably familiar with Lorde, the 16-year-old pop sensation from New Zealand and especially her critically acclaimed debut song "Royals" that has topped charts everywhere from UK and Canada to New Zealand and Ireland not to mention various Billboard charts in the US (5, to be precise). Quite an achievement from someone that young - I mean, what were you doing at the age of 16?

We could indeed be witnessing a meteoric rise to fame here: she's already become a bit of an internet phenomenon. However, the pattern isn't exactly unheard of: a promising, somewhat different singer-songwriter who's launched into global spotlight by a catchy, distinctive breakthrough single, then releases a solid album and enjoys the fruits of his or her labour for a while. But after the momentum is over, the descent to oblivion tends to be just as rapid as the rise to fame was. But does Lorde have what it takes to stand out and forge a career out of it?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Review: 'Matangi' by M.I.A.



Now, I'm not going to lie: I've always had a bit of a complicated relationship with M.I.A.'s albums. There are always some songs that are utterly brilliant and then some songs that just make me want to rip my ears off. It's nearly incomprehensible how she can be such a genius and yet so frustrating at the same time. In that sense, no matter how triumphant moments her albums have, they tend to be a bit flawed and unbalanced. And Matangi, one of the most expected albums of the year, is no exception to that.

On the other hand, it is exactly her unorthodoxness and leftfieldness that makes M.I.A. such a spectacular musician in the first place. It is her unconventionality that sets her apart from the rest of her peers, no matter how erratic it makes her output. Once again, Matangi is a perfect example of this. M.I.A. has a very unique way of mixing and matching different kinds of elements and influences in her music. For example, the album kicks off with "Karmageddon" which features a sitar intro before incorporating a wobbly bassline. This infusion of her ethnic roots and urban beats is a recurring theme in her music that continues on Matangi as well. The song then segues to the title track "Matangi" that recalls the exotic beats of her 2007 single "Boyz". In the beginning the song feels like a geography lesson with M.I.A. reciting a list of several countries before turning to dissing imitators and artists that lack originality: "Look-alike, copycat, doppelgänger, fraud / They ain't got nothing on me, now I'm getting bored / If you're gonna be me, you need a manifesto / If you ain't got one you better get one presto". Sharp-tongued, as usual.

Siouxsie Sunday: 'A Kiss In The Dreamhouse' by Siouxsie and the Banshees



So, after a little break it's time to continue with the story of Siouxsie and the Banshees. After The Creatures - aka Siouxsie and Budgie - were done with their Wild Things EP, it was time to return to the recording studio with the Banshees. Throughout their early career they kept recording new LPs with quite a pace - from 1978's The Scream up until 1982's A Kiss In The Dreamhouse they released a new album every year. With that in mind, it's astonishing how effortlessly they kept on reinventing themselves, creating records that always were distinctively Banshees, yet simultaneously something new and fresh. But none of these reinventions were quite as radical as what they went through on A Kiss In The Dreamhouse.

While Juju was a return to the more guitar-oriented sound of The Scream and Join Hands, Dreamhouse recalls the experimentality of Kaleidoscope, incorporating a range of new elements, such as loops and string arrangements - a feat first introduced on the fantastic stand-along single "Fireworks" that, for one reason or another, was left out of the album. Indeed, the album has a very, well, kaleidoscopic feel to it, as it is like a journey through glistering colours and ideas, a theme perfectly mirrored in its Gustav Klimt inspired artwork (a personal favourite of mine, as a matter of fact).

Friday, 1 November 2013

Happy J-Day everybody!



"Wait, happy what day?" Well let me explain you.

Every first Friday of November is here a day dedicated to Christmas spirit and more importantly - this being Denmark and all - the launch date of the Tuborg Christmas Brew (or Tuborg Julebryg) of the year. That is basically a Christmas beer that, even though it's available for only ten weeks each year, is actually the fourth best-selling beer in the country, only beaten by three other beers that are available all year round. Quite impressive, innit.

Anyway, the annual launch day marks a nationwide celebration where Carlsberg employees (Tuborg is a part of the Carlsberg company, in case you didn't know) going from bars and cafés to another, singing a traditional Tuborg Christmas Brew song (don't ask) and handing out free beers to the customers to mark the beginning of the festive season. Needless to say, people get massively drunk. I once heard another foreigner describe the way back to home after the night as a 'zombie walk', with people just incontrollably crawling in the gutters, brainless and in slow motion. With that in mind, and with Halloween just behind us, I couldn't think of a more fitting song for the weekend than "Living Dead" by Marina & the Diamonds. Unless, of course, you want to go with the Christmas Beer song. Or both! Anyway, happy J-Day for all ye living dead and have a wonderful weekend!


Live: Porcelain Raft at Beta, Copenhagen 30/10/2013.

You do remember Porcelain Raft, the excellent indie artist whose albums I've previously reviewed and obsessed over? Well, last night the band played a gig in Copenhagen and yes, I attended it. And also yes, I am going to review it as well. How could I not!

The venue was quite a small place but then again, considering the artist is hardly a very hyped-up one it was a very fitting setting for the gig. I went there with a friend of mine and to be honest, we were a bit terrified at first because there were literally like 15 people at the time of our arrival but fortunately more people kept trickling in along the evening, slowly but surely. The event was opened with a supporting band, the London-based indie duo Post Louis who played a handful of songs to warm the crowd up. I must admit I had never heard of them before, but they had an interesting experimental sound and one of their songs, the indie rock number "This Could Be A Bridge" worked really well live. It was their most uptempo song so that might also explain it. They ended their set with a beautiful cover of Lou Reed's "Berlin" which was a lovely nod to the recently passed away pioneer of rock music.





Some time later it was Porcelain Raft's time to take over the stage. After his 2012 debut LP Strange Weekend he used to perform solo, with only vocals and the guitar parts performed live while the rest of the music would come from loops etc. but now he's touring with a four-piece band which was a pleasant surprise as that way you get a more complete 'live' performance. The band opened up with an amped-up version of "Think of the Ocean", one of the most captivating songs from his latest record Permanent Signal that also worked well in this alternative version. It was followed by "Cluster" (just like on the album). Majority of the tracks were indeed from his second album - the one he's currently promoting, after all - but we were soon treated with an older hit (well, 'older' as in 'from last year') "Shapeless & Gone" that got the crowd bopping along.


Monday, 28 October 2013

Earwormin'

Phew. Today the whole country of Denmark (and the rest of Northern Europe) has been torn apart by the hurricane-force storm that has been called the worst storm in this country in a decade. Trees have been ripped up by the vicious winds and people have lost electricity and internet connections (the latter happened to me as well, so now I'm writing this post with my mobile internet. Being the faithful and dedicated blogger that I am.) Quite some madness. Apparently, the very same storm has caused massive damage - including losses of human lives - in England where more than 200,000 homes have been left without power. In France, the same number is around 75,000. What a hefty storm.

Anyway, the whole incident with hurricane-force winds and all the trees being torn down and ripped up does remind me of a certain song that has consequently been my earworm du jour. That would obviously be the title track of Grace Jones's 2008 album Hurricane. (Have you already read my review of it?) And how on earth would it not come to mind, with lyrics such as "And I'll be a hurricane! / Ripping up trees / Ripping up, lifting up / Tearing down trees". So if you feel like soundtracking your very own storm experience (provided that you still have your connections up and running), look no further. Take care and stay safe!


Sunday, 27 October 2013

Lou Reed dead at 71



Sad news: Lou Reed, the massively influential frontman of The Velvet Underground has passed away today, as reported by Rolling Stone. Cause of death is yet to be released but the legendary singer had been known to suffer from health problems lately and he underwent a liver transplant in May. He was reported to be recovering from the life-saving operation, but while he was back to working already, his wife doubted he'd ever recover completely. 

This is truly a sad day for the music world as it has now lost one of its most remarkable pioneers of alternative rock. His legacy will live on, however, in form of his career with The Velvet Underground and his extensive solo material, the most well-known example of which would probably be "Take A Walk On The Wild Side". I've chosen another amazing song of his to share with you, the astonishing "Perfect Day". Rest in peace, and thank you for the music.