The Dylanest Man On Earth

Ah, these crazy Swedes. When they aren’t making cars based on jet fighters, building hot sweaty rooms from pine, or drinking themselves into oblivion in a more chirpy way than Finns, they write music. Lots of it, too.

So Tall He Can't Even Get In The Frame

Latest Swede to hit these shores armed with a guitar and a way with a jaunty tune is The Tallest Man On Earth. Bad news first. He sounds a lot like Dylan. Good news is, he carries it really rather well. Opener to his new album “The Wild Hunt”, cunningly entitled, “The Wild Hunt”, is as good a place to start as any. Some lovely guitar, a catchy tune, some idiosyncratic singing, what more can you ask for?

The album’s a good ‘un too, and has been getting great reviews all over the place. Give it a try, I say.

MP3: The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man On Earth

Buy “The Wild Hunt” (CD)

A Thought On Some Bad Reviews

A few weeks ago, I was amazed by Pitchfork’s bad review of the brilliant debut by Freelance Whales. I’ve been listening to it for months and think it’s going to be one of the best albums of the year, so when P4K called it derivative and gave it a measly 4.2I was dumbfounded. Especially since they’ve also reviewed albums by The Morning Benders and Local Natives positively, pointing out their similarities to recent great bands. In other words, that they are derivative.

Now, Pitchfork, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t celebrate two records because they sound like other bands you like, and then slag another off because they, well, sound like other bands you like. It’s not the first time that Pitchfork has got it horribly wrong. Midlake’s breakthrough album “The Trials Of Van Occupanther” was booed offstage, despite it being, frankly, great. Jumping the shark, as that old saying goes?

Which leads me onto The Kissaway Trail. This may not come as much of a shock to regular readers, but I have an enormous pile of unread newspapers in my living room which I’m slowly working my way through. Last night I got to a Sunday Times Culture section (which, UK readers, you really should get – it’s great), and they reviewed The Kissaway Trails new album, likening it to The Flaming Lips and Grandaddy, both bands I am somewhat fond of. “I’ll give them I try”, I think, and I do. And I like them.

But guess what? Pitchfork can’t stand them. Derivative, they say. Sounds like Arcade Fire, they moan. Well, possibly, but they sound much more like Mew, which, being Danish, isn’t exactly a huge shock. So, in a reversal of what reviews are meant to do, I’m buying “Sleep Mountain” on the basis of a bad review.

In other news, I’m away for a few days, so without much further comment, here’s new songs by Band Of Horses and Stars. They have new albums out in May and June, respectively, so will write more about them closer to the time. Huzzah!

MP3: SDP by The Kissaway Trail

MP3: Fixed by Stars

MP3: Compliments by Band Of Horses

Note: this track has been removed as the hosters of this blog had a DMCA notice.

Buy “Sleep Mountain” by The Kissaway Trail (CD/MP3)

Buy “Set Yourself on Fire” by Stars (CD/MP3)

Note: Link to pre-order Band Of Horses removed.

Playin’ On The Radio

When you’re working 14 hour days, you need music that is easygoing, chilled out, and calming. Something that soothes your furrowed brow, but isn’t too soporific. Something relaxing, with a mellow tunefulness that seeps into your brain, and sends you to a happy place; beguiling music that keeps you interested without taxing your stressed synapses. No, not Mastodon1. The current crop of Swedish bands – now, that’ll do the trick. I finally bought the Aerial album the other day, and then along came The Radio Dept to further cheer up my long tube ride home. If you travel on the Jubilee Line at some point in the evening, and see a tall, shell-shocked looking man nodding his head to music in a happy, peaceful kind of way, it’s probably me. Listening to The Radio Dept2.

It's Curtains For You

They’ve got a new album out in March, calling “Clinging To A Scene” and lead single “Heaven’s On Fire” is a blinder. Listen. Now. More details at their website here.

Normal, more verbose service will be resumed at some point in April.

1 Though they were fantastic live. Review tomorrow, hopefully.

2 On that note, the new Joanna Newsom is going down well too, but does take some time to really click. Which is what you’d expect.

MP3: Heaven’s On Fire by The Radio Dept

New Year New Music Part Two – Aerial

Hmm, it’s good to see that my New Years Resolution is going well. Six days into the New Year and I’ve only managed two posts so far. And only one in the series of New Year New Music. I’m blaming the snow. *Sigh*

Right, time to remedy that with a new tune by those chirpy Swedes Aerial, who have a new single out. Entitled “Velvet Light Trap”, it’s not quite as immediate as their last single “All Refrain”, but it’s still a fine bit of indie-pop, sounding again not unlike the late lamented Beulah. And it’s not two minutes too short this time. They’ve got themselves a release date for “Put It This Way In Headlines” (Feb 17th in Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and even some live dates round Europe:

Feb 20 Offenbach (Germany) – Hafen 2
Feb 23 Vienna (Austria) – Rhiz
Feb 24 Dresden (Germany) – Conni
Feb 25 Berlin (Germany) – Nbi
Feb 27 Ribnitz (Germany) – Ajz

(Those dates have been cut & pasted from an email, so I’m really not sure about those venue names. “Nbi”? “Ajz”? Eh?)

The album’s available on the website to have a listen to, so make sure you listen to it then order yourself a copy. Take that, Bono!

MP3: Velvet Light Trap by Aerial

New Music – Aerial

At the moment, I’m reading Tom Holland’s “Millennium”, which concerns itself with the history of Europe from the Dark Ages through the millennium (at 1000AD, not the one nine years ago). One of the fascinating little nuggets of information that he’s so good at peppering his books with was about the Viking invasion and settlement of northern England. Apparently, despite our perception that the Vikings were a smelly, rampaging horde of barbarians, they bathed once a week, wore eyeliner and took a lot of care over their hair. This, of course, made them rather popular with the local ladies, and so Englishmen befriended them to get make-up and hair-care tips! Now, I bet you never thought that Vikings were in fact a bunch of poodle-rockers.

And on that note, following on from my recent posts about Mew and Mixtapes and Cellmates, here’s another bunch of Scandinavians, who are rampaging over the North Sea carrying Fender Jazzmasters and copies of My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”. Whether they are going to run off with our ladies too is purely open to conjecture.

Aerial have the same effortless tunefulness that their compatriots deal in, and I’m really starting to wonder what’s going on over there. “All Refrain” is but two minutes long, brings to mind Pavement and Guided By Voices and Beulah and is a good two minutes too short. It’s from their new LP “Put It This Way In Headlines” (which is up there in the “Not quite understandable” stakes with “You Forgot It In People”) which is out right now.

Bloody hell, it’s a good song. Not sure about the Liverpool mug in the video though.

MP3: All Refrain by Aerial

Buy the album from the Nomethod online shop or from iTunes (no Amazon links for this one, I’m afraid).

New Music – Mixtapes and Cellmates

Stockholm is a truly lovely place. Beautiful buildings lie dotted around about a thousand islands, so you’re never far from a bit of waterfront from which you can survey the city’s glacial beauty.

Snowy Stockholm

Snowy Stockholm

And glacial it is, because it’s usually fucking freezing. And between October and April, dark. Still, it gives those charming people time to hole up in front rooms, bars, cellars, and anywhere else where you can play guitar and drums and keyboards and sing your hearts out. Plus, there’s a decent welfare system which allows you to drop out of work for a while to persue your life’s dream. Which is presumably why Stockholm, and Scandinavia in general, is home to so many great bands.

She's Got A Beard!

She's Got A Beard!

Now, I’m not sure if Stockholm band Mixtapes and Cellmates are great at the moment, but on the basis of new single “Soon”, they’ve certainly got a chance. A fraught slice of angsty rock, it reminds me of that superb song by Rilo Kiley1:

You’ve got to love any song that does that weird pause thing – which I have been racking my brain for hours now to remember the proper name for it. “Portions For Foxes” does it. This song does it. You know, when a song goes dur-dur-dur-pause-DUR! Anyone? Anyhow, I really rather like this. It’s something of an earworm. The new album “Rox” is out on October 28th and you can pre-order here. I suggest you do.

MP3: Soon by Mixtapes and Cellmates

1 Which I’m not posting the mp3 for, because I’m going to do it when I get to the Pitchfork 500 missing list for that year. And yes, that’s not the proper video, but you can think the British Music Industry for not wanting me to post a video. A frickin’ video, I ask you.

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