Thursday, 30 January 2014

London: The recap

So, I went to London for my birthday. The city's famous for its fantastic music scene, so when you're there, you'd expect to see all these kinds of events and bands and what have you. And indeed there were things I wanted to go to check out! First, the Swedish indie pop duo I Break Horses was on tour and had a gig in London. Unfortunately for me, the tickets were sold out. Then there was the X-Posure Live All-Dayer at The Barfly which had a really interesting line-up with lots of up-and-coming artists (including Ásgeir, the Icelandic indie folk sensation I really wanted to see) but guess what - sold out. Just my luck.

I wanted to see at least something so I looked up a bunch of live events at random bars and venues with local acts performing acoustic etc. Then I met some great people with whom I went out partying so I ended up being too hungover to go anywhere after all. I was also supposed to look up all these cool underground record stores where I could buy all these rare vinyls I have been hunting for but once again, hungover. Gosh. Well, at least I did find a lovely Siouxsie tee in Camden Town.

I did have a most amazing time other than that. And in the end, I didn't have to leave the city empty-handed what it comes to music, either: I got my hands on a guide to London's music scene, and it features a bunch of brief introductions of rising artists to look out for. So that should give me a lot of inspiration for things to write about! And on the other hand, at least now I know to be a bit more prepared for my next London trip, whenever that'll be... it might be worth getting the tickets in advance next time!

Anyway, here's "Winter Beats" by the wonderful I Break Horses who I was supposed to see. Their electronic dreaminess reminds me slightly of that of Porcelain Raft so if you like his music, do check out this one as well.

Monday, 27 January 2014

MØ's latest single now has a music video to it

The music video to MØ's latest single "Don't Wanna Dance" has been released. The Motown-esque tune is now accompanied with a clip that features MØ holding a deer fawn in a forest, writhing on a colourful retro sofa and dancing about in a scrapyard ('cause why not?) both at normal speed and in slowmo. Or would that be in... slowmø?


Anyway, take a look at it:

The song is really growing on me, actually. The single cover does remind me a lot of that of Santigold's debut album though. Surely it's not just me? Or maybe it's just that glitter puke has become a 'thing' while I've been away. Hmm.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Peepshow' by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Another Sunday, another Siouxsie album, eh? The year is 1988, and after releasing the cover album Through The Looking Glass the year before, Siouxsie and the Banshees hit the studio, this time with original material. Subsequently they released their 9th studio album, Peepshow. The band's constant evolution and development was further fuelled with changes in the line-up: after Through The Looking Glass, the core trio of the Banshees (Siouxsie, Severin, Budgie) decided to continue working as a trio, and guitarist John Valentine Carruthers was to go, becoming yet another ex-Banshee guitarist. 

However, by the time they started recording the album, the line-up had once again expanded, this time to a five-piece: they recruited ex-Specimen guitarist Jon Klein and multi-intrumentalist Martin McCarrick. The latter had already actually worked with the Banshees on two occasions, having done the string arrangements for both 1984's The Thorn EP and the group's previous album Through The Looking Glass. Now however, he would join the group as a full-time member, staying with the Banshees till the rest of their career and becoming the longest-serving Banshee after the obvious exception of Siouxsie/Severin/Budgie.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Happy birthday to... me!

That's right - I'm celebrating my birthday today! That's why I actually came to London in the first place, it being one of my favourite places in the world. And while I came here alone, I've already had one birthday present given to me: my friends at the morning radio show Wirtanappi (in the Finnish Tampere-based university radio station Moreeni) played me one of my absolutely favourite songs to start off my day with. All you Finnish-speaking readers (and those who don't mind hearing a bit of Finnish amidst great music), do check them out! Unfortunately, the show cannot be podcasted, but while the radio station is indeed a local one, it can be listened to online regardless of where you are. Isn't the internet just fantastic? (You can also find Wirtanappi on Twitter and Facebook.)

What was the song in question, you ask? Well, it was "Another Planet" by The Creatures, from their 1999 album Anima Animus. In a few weeks' time, there will be a proper Siouxsie Sunday review of the album (as The Creatures were a side-project of Siouxsie and fellow Banshee/then-husband/percussionist virtuoso Budgie) so we'll get a closer look then. Meanwhile, enjoy the song below:

Ah, magnificent isn't it.

But wait, there's more! As a present to you, dear readers, I've compiled a new playlist for you to listen to. It was partially inspired by the Nordic Playlist project I previously wrote about, and features some of my favourite gems of Nordic indie pop music, discovered both through the weekly Nordic Playlists and elsewhere. I'll keep it updated from time to time so remember to follow. Enjoy!

Review: 'What's The Time Mr Wolf?' by Noisettes

This morning I arrived in London. I left for a trip all by myself which is something I had never done before. (Well, assuming that moving alone to a whole another country doesn't count.) I love this city so much and then again, why wouldn't I - London is basically the Mecca of modern-day pop music. I find it so amusing to just walk about, spotting things and names previously familiar from various songs and movies. And whenever I'm in London, one particular album hits heavy rotation in my brain.

That album, as you might guess by the picture above, is What's The Time Mr Wolf? by Noisettes. Past few years haven't been too favourable for rock music, and the charts and the mainstream consciousness have been dominated by electronic-influenced dance-pop music. It was all different in the mid- to late-2000s - there were new rock bands (and especially, so-called indie rock bands) popping up like mushrooms to the extent that music journalists started to describe a lot of new guitar-oriented indie music as 'landfill indie'. Indeed, considering that there were so many new similar bands being founded all around the world (and especially in the UK), many of them had a hard time trying to differentiate themselves from the others. Magazines and websites such as NME were filled with bands that far too often sounded far too similar. Fortunately, there were exceptions out there too, and (along with Band of Skulls) one of my favourite bands to emerge from the mid-2000s indie rock scene was Noisettes.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

V V Brown announces a competition regarding her next single release.

So, after releasing the amazing singles "Samson" and "The Apple" from her stunning sophomore album Samson & Delilah, V V Brown is apparently about to release another single! Which song it'll be exactly remains a mystery, and that's actually the catch here: you have to guess it on her Facebook page. Each person gets one chance, and out of the people who have predicted it right by the time the competition ends, one will be randomly selected as the winner. And what does the winner get, you ask? A personal song written by Brown especially to him or her, that's what.

She'll be posting about the competition every Monday (until otherwise stated) so I suppose it'll last for at least a couple of weeks. Here's the first hint:

Nope, me neither. Personally I'd hope for either "Ghosts" or "Knife". "Igneous" could also be a strong contender. I'm still waiting for more hints before I leave my guess though.

Oh, and if you're 'blessed' with an impossibly pronounceable name such as a Polish one with like, seven consonants back-to-back, do us all (and her) a favour and maybe don't participate, eh? 

(Then again, am I really one to talk? Finnish names aren't exactly easy for foreigners either. Okay, fine, live and let live. Everybody go and participate, good luck! Who knows, maybe the winner could be you...)

Review: 'Prism' by Katy Perry

2013 was quite a competitive year on the pop music front. While in my opinion the year was a bit lacking album-wise, there were several contenders for the best pop record of the year. Three candidates rose above others, at least what it came to public attention: Miley Cyrus's Bangerz, Lady Gaga's Artpop, and Katy Perry's Prism. As it tends to go, music journalists were more than enthusiastic to pit these three against each others, which wasn't helped by the fact that they were all released within a month.

To tell you the truth, I'm not really a big fan of any of them, and find the idea of media pitting female celebrities against each others as nothing more than lazy journalism (catfights equal 'shocking' headlines). There was one thing that did capture my attention, however: whereas both Cyrus and Gaga relied heavily on shock value in their promotional campaigns (seriously, they've taken desperate attention seeking to a whole new stratosphere), Perry's album promotion appeared much more moderate: gone was the in-your-face provocativeness of "I Kissed A Girl" and the muffin-shaped bras. Rather than opting for the candy-coloured rubber dresses of her past, she toned it all down this time, setting herself above the pointless exaggeration and let the music do the talking - hats off for that. In addition, "Roar" was admittedly one of the catchiest pop singles last year (I even chose it for my 'Best of 2013' list) so I wanted to see what the fuzz was all about. And boy was I pleasantly surprised!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Through The Looking Glass' by Siouxsie and the Banshees

The Tinderbox writing and recording sessions had taken a lot of time and effort - almost the whole of 1985 - so the band decided to take another route with their next LP. Thus, they ended up recording 1987's Through The Looking Glass, an album solely consisting of cover versions of pre-existing songs. That's right, a cover album. Now, the thing about cover albums is that they can end up being extremely boring: it's songs you've already heard before, and usually not that radically reworked either. Furthermore, going exclusively for covers can be a rather lazy option too (hey, you don't need to write anything yourself, when you're relying on great songs already made popular).

However, Siouxsie and the Banshees were not your average band - when they did covers, they nailed it. They had already recorded and released a bunch of covers, ranging from two Beatles covers, both from the latter's eponymous 1968 album ("Helter Skelter" appeared on their debut LP The Scream and "Dear Prudence" was included in the US version of Hyæna) to additional singles B-sides. They were not a lazy group of musicians either, often revamping the songs beyond recognition, making them distinctively Banshees-y songs in the process. "Helter Skelter" for instance was remade into a full-fledged post-punk stomper whereas the dreamy "Dear Prudence" became a blissful pop gem in the Banshees' hands. So, they had already successfully done some sporadic covers, but how would they fare with a whole 10-track collection of them?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Review: 'Fixin To Thrill' by Dragonette

In 2007, an album was released that in my eyes is one of the best electro-pop albums that I've ever heard. That album is called Galore and it's by the Canadian pop marvels Dragonette. It was such a near-perfect album that I gave it five stars in my review. However, with a phenomenal debut come huge expectations - how are you going to come up with a follow-up to such a solid album? It can't be easy, can it.

Yet, "It's easy / hard as it seems" sings frontwoman Martina Sorbara on "Easy", and it kind of answers my question as well. Released in 2009, Fixin To Thrill is the group's second album and marks a slight departure from their initial, straight-forward pop-rock style. It's not like they abandon pop music here either, but they do embrace a more electronic-oriented, even indie-like soundscape on the record. Fixin To Thrill also sees a change in Sorbara's persona: whereas on Galore she represented an archetypal sultry pop vixen, here she adopts a bolder and occasionally even juvenile character, which is also reflected in the music videos and the way they portray her.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

So, there's a new Dragonette collaboration out.

The Canadian marvels of electropop Dragonette have a new song out. It's a collaboration with the Spanish DJ duo Buffetlibre with whom they previously worked on a remix of their 2010 single "Easy". The song is a cover of "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel and appears on Buffetlibre's new 4-track EP Elaine's Ghosts which consists solely of covers and features vocals by different guest vocalists. Other covers include Lorde's massive 2013 hit "Royals" (featuring Emanuel from I'm From Barcelona), "The Mother We Share" by Chvrches (featuring Jay Jay Johanson) and "Sometimes Always" by Jesus & Mary Chain (featuring Ed Harcourt and Catherine Ad).

The whole EP can be streamed on Buffetlibre's Soundcloud page. Furthermore, all the profits raised by the EP will go to Oxfam Intermón so it's also music for a cause. And what's greater than that?

Review: 'The Next Day' by David Bowie

One week ago it was David Bowie's 67th birthday. One year and one week ago he took the whole music world by surprise when, after years of radio silence, he unexpectedly released an unpromoted new single "Where Are We Now?" and also announced a new album, first since his 2003 record Reality. Considering it had been ten years since his last studio album and his last concert had been in 2006, he was believed to have retired. As you might imagine, the world went crazy - the chameleon of pop, the Thin White Duke was back!

It's not easy to make a believable comeback after such a long hiatus, especially with a back catalogue as extensive as Bowie's. People's excitement tends to build up and form impossibly large expectations with such iconic artists, which is perhaps the very reason why the artist executed his comeback unannounced, writing the album in secret. The artist has to prove that he or she is still relevant, making new excitingly fresh music that doesn't recycle the same old pattern but also without alienating previous audiences. What a tough thing to do. Remember when I wrote about Grace Jones's stellar Hurricane? She certainly pulled it off - and after a recording break of 19 years, mind you. But what about Bowie?

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

MØ shares teaser of new single 'Don't Wanna Dance'

MØ, the Danish indie popper who I've been lately a bit obsessed with, shared a brief teaser of her upcoming single "Don't Wanna Dance" on her Instagram page. It's the first single to be released from her No Mythologies To Follow LP which is apparently out on 10t of March, if her Facebook cover photo is to be believed. (Originally the released date was announced to be February 24 so the date must've been postponed.) The song seems to be much less urban-sounding than her previous singles "XXX 88" and "Waste of Time" and more retro-ish (in the style of another single, "Never Wanna Know"), complete with a '60s Motown beat. The song will debut on BBC Radio 1 in two days, on 16th, so expect to hear the full version soon on YouTube or Spotify or Soundcloud or what have you. And if the teaser leaves you wanting for more, you can tease yourself further with the album sampler she released a while ago.

That's all.

Edit. Here's the track! Quite lovely, is it not?

Lily Allen releases new single titled 'Air Balloon'

After first treating us with the lead single "Hard Out Here" which prompted some controversy due to its music industry bashing lyrics and music video, the Cockney pop princess Lily Allen has now released a second single from her forthcoming third album. This single is called "Air Balloon" and it's a happy-go-lucky saccharine pop tune that even feels a bit M.I.A.-esque at times. "Air Balloon" is certainly less controversial than its predecessor, although a music video is being shot as we speak so it might be too early to say. I do have a hard time believing it'll be as 'shocking' as that of "Hard Out Here".

Meanwhile, she has criticised the music industry for its lack of experimentalism, calling it "formulaic and predictable". Hopefully her third album will be more adventurous with musical styles and elements, then. Not much is known about the album so far, and even the album title (plus the artwork) remains unreleased. Apparently she's still "piecing it all together" but says that she's "really really proud of it". Speaking to Popjustice, she confirmed that in addition to electronic pop, the album will feature dreamy trip hop-inspired material as well. She has also earlier said that there will be "some feminist vibes going on" and, of course, "a bit of swearing".

Good ol' Lily.

EDIT: Here's the music video as well.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Siouxsie Sunday: 'Tinderbox' by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Whoops, it's been a while due to my Yuletide absence and I do apologise that. Anyway, I suppose it's time to get back to blogging and continue with Siouxsie Sunday series!

Where were we? Ah yes, the mid-80s. Following Robert Smith's exit from Banshees for the second and the final time after first recording a live record Nocturne and then, a studio album Hyæna with the group, he was replaced with John Valentine Carruthers, previously from the industrial outfit Clock DVA. Before writing a proper new album, however, the Banshees chose to re-record a bunch of older tracks first, partly in order to integrate Carruthers into the group prior to the album writing process. The final results were released as a four-track EP titled The Thorn. Then, it was time to hit the studio again, but now with a whole new LP in their sights. The album took quite some time to finish - they spent most of 1985 working on it - but finally, the following year, the Banshees' seventh studio album was released, and it bore the name Tinderbox.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Attention, all lovers of Nordic pop music!

Among many other things, the Nordic countries are nowadays known for their fantastic music scene that has garnered fans from all around the world. If you're familiar with my blog, you'll know that I make no exception: from already well-established likes of Robyn, Röyksopp and Lykke Li to up-and-coming artists such as , Artymove and Asteroids Galaxy Tour (to name but a few), the blooming Nordic indie/pop scene is simply far too amazing to not adore. And if you agree, I sure as hell have a treat for you.

Quite often these acts, brilliant as they are, might not exactly be household names. Wouldn't it be great to have some kind of a channel that would introduce you to new Nordic names so that you wouldn't need to go through all that effort yourself? Enter Nordic Playlist. According to their website, they're a "brand new way to discover the most exciting sounds in the Nordic region". Every week, a chosen curator compiles a 10-track playlist with two songs from each of the Nordic countries (that'd be Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland). Produced by Nomex - a pan-Nordic music export programme - and supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Playlist is exactly what you need in order to familiarise yourself with a whole bunch of new and fresh artists from the Nordic music scene. A new Spotify playlist will appear each week (and there's also other stuff such as top ten lists from all the five countries). Click here for the first and here for the second edition.

I for one made fascinating discoveries instantly, and I chose to share the following song with you: it's the debut single "No Gun" by the Swedish/Barbadian singer Naomi Pilgrim who's previously served as a backing vocalist for Lykke Li. I heard the song yesterday and it has been playing on repeat both in my head and my music player ever since. It's soulful pop with electronic and hip-hop elements and, as put by her Youtube page, mixes West Indian heat with Scandinavian coolness. And boy is it good. You would do wisely to check it out.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

You can now follow Popheaval on Twitter, too!

Yay, my conquest of social media is proceeding! (Slowly but surely.) Now you can follow the blog on Twitter as well - how lovely is that? So if you're there already, you can get updates about new blog posts directly to your Twitter feed. Convenient, innit!

Every day certainly brings something new. Last year, this day (also his birthday) marked the announcement of David Bowie's brilliant comeback album The Next Day. (I'm still on holiday but there's going to be a review of it sooner or later. Stay tuned.) And here's one for the 67-year-old legend and for many more years to come! It's the title track of the album and it comes with a peculiar music video that plays with a lot of religious imagery. Apparently it stirred quite a lot of controversy initially, even getting banned only two hours after its release. Then, when it was brought back, it came with an age restriction. Much ado about nothing as far as I'm concerned but well, you've been warned. Anyway, happy birthday Mr. Bowie and remember to follow the blog's Twitter page!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

MØ shares album sampler, it sounds excellent

Danish indie pop sensation MØ has her debut LP No Mythologies To Follow coming out in less than two months and now she's treated us with an album sampler! And yes, it's sounding very promising indeed. I'm still a bit 'bovvered' though about how large part of the album consists of songs that have been already released but it doesn't really make the tracks any less brilliant, now does it. Also, the brief snippets taken from the unreleased songs sound equally exciting so this should certainly be an album to be reckoned with. So, while you're waiting for the real deal, do check out the sampler below!

And if such teasing left you craving for more, check out "XXX 88", MØ's collaboration with Diplo - it's amazing and will appear on the album as well! Furthermore, make sure you go see her if she comes to perform somewhere near you - she does put on one hell of a show. (You can find her tour dates here.)