Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.7
Laakso - "My Gods" I teetered on the fence for a while with this one. Not only was I not sure what to make of it, when it came my maggies were getting worked on and I really didn't like the way it sounded thru my other speakers. When I finally came back to it in preparation for this review I had them back and found it far more enjoyable to listen to. In any case from the outset I was struck by their brilliant self-deprecatory song High Drama. Lead singer Markus Krunegård has a strong, quirky but addictive accent when he sings and the song is not only brilliant lyrically, it is as catchy as all hell. When you come right down to it what this is is THE quintessential rock album, the kind we used to see made back in the late 70's and the songs are all diary like travelloges of the life and miseries of it's lead singer, from wandering lost and drunk in Hamburg, fighting with his drummer on stage in Finland, threatening reviewers or beating up balding men it is the caravaneer of the damned. There are rock anthems, ballads, love songs, the whole nine yards of rock essentially and while I didn't like it all, (watch it Spinguy, Markus will be after you next) I did find many tracks I was fond of, and in fact liked those very much. You'll have to hear it for yourself and be your own judge but there is no question that it is a rarity of sorts these days and that alone makes it quite special.
Label ~ V2, 12 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Labrador - "Goodbye Susanne" About time! We here at the Spinzone have finally secured some copies of this very hard to get debut album from Danish sensation Labrador, copies of which are available in the Popsicle shop as I speak. Does that sound more like an ad than a review? Fair enough, but if you bought and liked their new album (which you should have and would have) then you'll want this one by all means. While it varies in style overall more than the new one, the blueprints for his (Flemming Borby's) sound are clearly evident and mapped out for the future. Songs like I Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing have all the Bacharach-esque drippings one could want. It's upscale pop music for retro jetsetters in love. And Flemming further demonstrates his killer instinct for the use of the trumpet thru out, but especially on the monumental track I Love You My Way which has a riff that won't ever leave your head again. It also features his great use of the female backup as the song ends with a really catchy chorus of "our love-E, love-E, love-E dove..." This outing also resembles the second album in that the songs tend to push the length barrier with almost all clocking in between 4 and 5 minutes, but as in that album they do not wear out their welcome. A true pop gem and not to be missed. You snooze, you loose, as I cannot guarantee how long copies will be available. You've been fairly informed, and warned.
Label ~Divine , 11 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Labrador - "Instamatic Lovelife" Don't be confused by the name. This band is not affiliated with the swedish label Labrador, although they are from nearby Denmark. Labrador is the vehicle of Danish music giant Flemming Borby, and on this their second release he has created an album so full of pop perfections it quite literally staggers the mind. This arrived out of the blue from Uwe at Firestation, and when I played the first track Why Does Nobody Listen I was engulfed by the sheer magic of it. Engulfed? What am I thinking, it was a blow to the solar plexus. It embraces all that is right with classic pop music: A great melody, wonderful female backing vocals and to die for horn lines. But the real killer is it doesn't end there. Every song, song after song, is as equally lyric, captivating and instantly friendly as music can be. I have heard albums that were compilations of bands life works, full of top 10 hits, that were not as magical song after song as this is. While it owes a lot to Bacharach, it is very indie and guitar oriented, and Flemmings voice is quite good, at times even reminding me of Tim Benton from Baxendale, especially on the track Side By Side. You really get your monies worth as well, as there are 13 tracks, almost all of which hover at the 4 to 5 minute mark. Normally that kind of song length kills LP's but not in this case. It also contains what I believe are older hits such as Freeway To Mars and In A Blue Balloon as well as the videos for the latter plus "...Listen" above. Don't miss the album that will surely be a top ten if not LP of the year, and what Ed Shelflife called "almost too perfect". Indeed, it could literally be the instruction book for the next 10 years of pop music. While it will not be released for a while everywhere you can get a pre release copy in the Popsicle shop now. Truly, one of the best reasons to cherish life.
Label ~ Firestation, 13 Tracks, 2 videos 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Labrador - "Caleidoscope Aeroplane" Here is the third long player from everyones favorite Dane Flemming Borby. It appears he was in a bit of a quandary about how to go about recording this album and he had trouble finding musicians who had the requisite talent but who would behave like the trained minions he requires. Disgusted, he shuffled off to Cuba and while there stumbled into a group of musicians who were all he was looking for and more. He quickly laid down some tracks with them, took them back home and mastered them and was so happy he wrote the rest of the album and returned to record it with these people. So, the obvious question would be does this album have a Latin flavour? No. OK, does it have a.... lets say tropical flavour? No. Well, it must remind one of summer.... the sea.... cigars....? No, no, no. Flemming has always had a clear penchant for a 60's Bacharach & David sound: mellow, mellifluous, swank, suave. Even when the songs are clearly on the melancholic side there is an emotive breathlessness about them. I don't think anyone understands or does this better than he does these days. That said this album perhaps borrows more from 80's acts like Roxy Music and Spandau Ballet than his previous work did. I hesitate to say this is his most "complete" album (in that all the songs so naturally belong together) because the past work was so wonderful, but it would probably not be incorrect to imply that. This is simply a luxuriating album that will transport the listener to a better place of mind, something the best pop music alone can do. One of the years best.
Label ~ Divine, 9 Tracks, 2008
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 0
Ladybug Transistor - "the Albemarle Sound" Sometimes mediocrity ascends (or is that decends?) to such a level that words simply falter. Such is the dilemma I am faced with when trying to describe the feelings that issued thru me as I forced my ears to undergo the torture that is this record. Here is a band that on the surface appears to be trying to capture all the subtle nuance that was the 60's, when in reality they should have been trying to capture any nuance, subtle or not, that was at least musical. I truly don't recall hearing an LP that was quite as bereft as this little ditty is. This is the first LP to be reviewed that I actually gave a zero to. It is so musically boring, eventless and down right badly arranged that it is truly God awfully rotten. Indeed, it is the Mount Everest of crap, and once again, I hope Keith McLachlan gets a festering boil on his rumpus for writing the review that made me buy it. It should be launched into space, not as a testiment to the mind of man as Mozart was, but with the hopes that in those endless, dark recesses no life form will ever be subjected to it again.
Label ~ Merge, 12 Tracks, 1999
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 6
Ladytron - "604" T-baby had gotten this on the strengths of it's many "reviews", but frankly these days I'm completely sworn off anything the likes of the NME calls "one of the years best" as if they have even a clue. It's a sure sign for me to run like all hell. Anyway, I can't speak for todays kids, but since my generation grew up with the first and original wave of techno perhaps I have a different outlook. Back then it was sometimes overlooked if you were bad musically as the real draw was often your "sound", because those new noises coming out of strange boxes called Moogs and Rolands were a novelty in themselves. That said, I've been there, done that, and heard those noises and now I need a little bit more. Now, this LP is basically inoffensive in itself. There isn't anything going on I never heard before, and the songs tend toward the average to slightly less so. They also seem to not often be doing a whole lot. To my mind, this LP isn't much more than musical somnambulism, unless you actually enjoy hearing a series of keyboard tones repeated over and over and over. Even on the few times they actually turn the sounds into songs, such as on The Way That I Found You the results are only good. There truly is no ground being broke here, unless of course you know nothing of the past. The saddest part is, industry people who should know hailed this as a milestone and a masterpiece. Guess they forgot the likes of Gary Numan or Can, and they are unaware of new groups like Micromars who do break new synth ground. If you like synths and haven't a clue, you might like this LP. I don't.
Label ~ Emperor Norton, 16 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Ladytron - "Light & Magic" I had pretty much slagged their first lp, and I will say now it might have been a little unjust. I stole T's copy so one day (soon) I'll give it another hearing. I was in a "bad way" when I reviewed it eons ago trying to build up the bulk of reviews for the site and for some reason it didn't settle well with me. In any case there is immediately a lot more melody on this disc than there was on that first one. (at least as far as I can remember) Singles the likes of Seventeen, while it has fairly vapid and repetitive lyrics, is teamed to a great synth line and good vocals and it's the kind of song that brings dance clubs to life. (AND the lyrics stick in your head anyway) It excels in that regard about as well as any song in this genre has ever done. The whole album does actually, and had I not been afraid to get this sooner it most likely would have made my top ten list of last year. (another reason I hate top ten lists) I especially like the instrumental song Turn it On as it really has the early 80's period Human League sound in spades and sounds great thru the gear. The whole Lp does actually which is no surprise considering the genre to which it belongs. But it isn't a one trick pony, as the styles vary from track to track and they even sound a lot like the Canadian band Chicklet on Blue Jeans. It might also be helping my mood that my new Hovland preamp is pulling sounds out of this recording that are just unbelievable. The best ridiculous amount of money I ever spent. (and at that it was used) I'm not sure how hard it is making a good synth record once you know how to make the "noises". Perhaps it is easy, it seems like it would be, but that doesn't diminish any accomplishments in the field and this is a very interesting and engrossing record to listen to, even if you aren't overly fond of the style. (and how could you not be?) It isn't always overtly dancy, but it is always upbeat and it's hard not to be moved by that beat. This is about as good a buy with your music dollar as you're likely to get. I may just have to interview these people one day. Ah yes, more egg on my face....
Label ~ Emperor Norton, 15 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Ladytron - "Witching Hour" This is proof indie suffers the same sort of malaise the majors do. This has been a well regarded band and this is now their third long player and I had no idea it was even out and came across it quite by accident, and I've seen no mention of it anyplace. I suppose nobody can be bothered to care anymore. Worse still, my first few listens had me feeling fairly ambivalent about it as well. It was not as juicily recorded as the last, and nowhere near as up tempo and driving either. It pretty much got shelved until the day came when I knew I'd have to expound upon it. Well, that day was drawing nigh so I pulled it out this past week and began listening to it at night while reading and doing other things and it finally began to grow upon me. This is a decidedly new direction for them, in fact a few new directions as there is a bit of variety all within the same sort of synth envelope as it were. On some tracks such as AMTV they come across sounding a bit like the UK girl band Client, and on others like Weekend they have the sweet and raw pop sensibilities of Lush on display. Some moments get even odder as we are treated to either russian or backwards run lyrics on Fighting In Built Up Areas. On a whole this outing compared to their others is slower, a bit more lo-fi, and certainly more experimental. They are in there though as songs such as The Last One Standing are quintessentially them however I think the broad mix presented here really adds to the value. This is still growing on me as we speak, but even at this juncture I like it quite a bit. I won't go so far as to say it's their best because I gave the last one a 10+ so I'll rate this a bit lower, but it comes recommended with a bullet as there's no telling where it will end up. If this turns out better they can't both be 10+ so that one will likely drop. I wish I had such problems with all the things I review....
Label ~ Rykodisc, 14 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.7
Lali Puna - "Scary World Theory" I first heard about this band from Jason of Barcelona, and it's surprising I hadn't heard of them because they are regarded highly in a number of circles. I jokingly asked if they were Hawaiian but they are indeed German, and that usually implies techno, which this is, but it's a very somnambulistic techno. The first track Nin-Com-Pop is kind of typical of what's here; a medium speed beat with a background of slower, almost "soaring" synths notes which kind of slows it down. Vocals are female and have a typical kind of German hush spoken tone to them. This song is good, but the chorus is quite catchy. The second track starts with more annoying record popping noise (enough people, OK?!) which fortunately slowly ebbs out as the song goes on. It's the third song here Bi-Pet that I'm finally getting hooked a bit. It really reminds me of something else, but again I'm not sure exactly what, but it falls into classic slower techno, and isn't far from some of the band Stars better songs. Most of the stuff here is medium to slow with Lowdown being the closest thing to an uptempo, dancey kind of track. As you would expect, this thing is recorded really well, and if you have good gear it's a wild ride with all the techno wranglings going on, and in many respects that takes up alot of the slack in itself if you have good gear. There are no world shattering tracks but a number of the them have an odd staying power. If you have good gear and like techno you'll find this worth getting, but I don't think it lives up to all the hype surrounding this band. (that means it's really good, not GREAT) There are certainly some quite good songs on it but as the beat changes little it can get a little tedious at times. It's one of those things that if your mood suits it's temperment you'll probably really get down and dig, but if you want to dance you'll look elsewhere. I found myself liking it more each time I hear it, and that's always a good sign, but I always had a penchant for kraut rock. T on the other hand didn't like this.
Label ~ Morr Music, 10 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Language Of Flowers - "Songs About You" I know, I know. This is awfully late in coming, and I have the lack of a stereo for months to blame. It came out right at my cut off point but it could have been considered for (and in) the top ten list of last year, but owing to the fact I am only getting to it now it will be in consideration this year. So what more need be said by this point? This Irish band has been cutting wakes with it's own prowess, with a brilliant sound somewhere between the Cranberries and a mix of C86 girl led bands from the Primitives to Lush especially. I think lead singer Tara Simpson has a great voice and on some falsettos she does sound a bit like Miki Berenyi from Lush. This is especially true on the track Tara Mascara where the whole affair, music and all, sounds exactly like Lush at it's best from the unique arrangement to the chorus which seems to come right from Lushs playbook. My kid as well has been hooked on this band since I put the song If It's Not You on a disc for the car, and she has to hear the track repeated until even I get tired of it. (and I am no slouch at repeating a track) It kills me that the masses worry over asinine programs like American Idol when bands like this exist. You want to worship someone? You want an album of brilliant chords, catchy melodies all teamed to a great voice? Turn the damn TV off, buy this album and drop to your knees and give thanks for salvation has arrived. Without question one of the years best, and that's a weighty proclamation to make 2 weeks into the new year. Just superb in every way, from it's infectious chords, great melodies and imaginative lyrics.
Label ~ Shelflife, 11 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.7
Lanterna - "Highways" I like a well done instrumental album, and as they often tend to be found more in the electronica format, finding one that was more guitar oriented inspired me to get this. It is recorded nicely, has a very ambient tone about it and the songs are certainly emotive, however it has one flaw which I still hesitate to rate on severity. The songs tend to really focus around one central riff or melody, almost to the point of tedium, and certainly at times to the point of deadening repetition. This trait seems to be more odious when listening to this album straight thru. When you mix the tracks on other cd's with other material that is alleviated a great deal and the problem seems to go away. While that is good it is also a bit sad as this is the kind of thing you'd like to stick on as lovely ambient background music, but I cannot as I find the repetitive nature of it insinuates itself into my conscious, and it isn't background anymore, it's foreground, and I'm annoyed at the Chinese water torture nature of it. A shame really, as this is excellent on a lot of levels. It's not as bad as perhaps I am implying, just perhaps the songs could have been experimented with more, and the melodies taken to a deeper degree. Still, there are bits here that are just lovely and sublime. If you like the genre, you will certainly find things to like here.
Label ~ Badman, 9 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Myrrh Larsen - "Unstrung" I generally have not been taking promos as I am too busy and have too many sitting here already. However Myrrh (that's right, as in gold, frankincense and myrrh larsen) really buttered my ass in his email, (that and the clip I heard piqued my interest) so I told him to send it. What came is a 7 track mini album - long EP full of very acoustic oriented guitar rock ballads with quite heartfelt and genuine vocals. It's actually pretty nice, plus it's recorded very well. In fact it's done so well that some of the tracks like January take on a fullness and power that belie their rather simple natures. It must be said that some of the songs are more clearly along the lines of AOR radio rock than indie music, and if that is not to your liking you may find that a turn off. I normally would, but in this case I did not as it managed to transcend that genre for me. I would like to hear what he could do with a little more orchestration, because what is possibly the best track on here is a full blown acoustic cover of Blondies Call Me which has pace, flamenco guitar and really rocks, all the while maintaining a nice hesitant poignancy. In fact the only problem you might have with this album is where the hell to buy it. My advice is to try his website if you like this clip and to hear some more.
Label ~ Whole Note, 7 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Lato - "More Art Than Convenience?" This band is the new incarnation of Desmond Squire of Blochin 81 fame and I have to say their demise was sad to me as I thought the world of them. I believe when Lato toured germany last year they were accompanied by Paul Weller, who is quite fond of them and that thought came to mind when I heard this LP. I think I might hazard a guess why he likes them, as this new band certainly does have moments where it reminds me of the Jam, and Desmond does even sound a bit like Weller at times. The opener, Rack up a Replay is guitary in all the right places and it does have a Jam like melody and chorus to it. The next song however is acoustic with swirling hammond like organ and it would not be far off saying it has a Style Council vibe to it. Both of these comparisons are good ones, to me at least. Track three, Shiver in the Mirror however is much more greebo influenced with grungy guitar, and it reminds me a bit of the Happy Mondays maybe mixed with Oasis, and I'm not sure I like it all that much. One thing is clear, Lato doesn't "take the piss" like Blochin 81 did which is a bit of a shame since Squire can really write great ironic lyrics and while the content here isn't bad it isn't brilliant either. That and the fact that a number of the songs turn into a wall of guitar sound as opposed to a melody of guitar sound. In that respect this album is closer to modern "alternative" than being indie like, as some songs display an almost classic rock treatment to their arrangement, and the album as a whole is certainly 70's rooted in most regards. Still, it's done well enough that it isn't bothering me too much, and some cuts like Until Tomorrow are quite nice. However, I do think this is one of those albums I'd sooner take tracks off of for comp discs than listen to straight thru, as I find it kind of wears on me as a whole. A few rays of light in an otherwise uneventful sea.
Label ~ Firestation, 12 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.1
Laurel Music - "This Night And The Next" Laurel Music is musician and songwriter Tobias Isaksson teamed up with Douglas Heart lead vocalist Malin Dahlberg. They originally paired to write some songs for the Sound Of Young Sweden comp vol 3 and the results were so good they were encouraged to make an entire album together. This is the result of that work. It is very heartfelt and genuine, with a wash of early american country music about it at times. While the Douglas Heart album was a bit depressing for me on a whole, this is not. It has just enough of a country tinge to be enjoyable and while it's generally slow and emotive it never drags or gets boring. In fact I found I got to the end unexpectedly fast. (of course being only 27 minutes long helps) In many ways this is exactly the kind of fare we've come to expect from labrador. Well played, unique and earnest, compelling in many ways and often times simply enchanting. As long as the country accents don't bother you this, while not brilliant, is quite enjoyable.
Label ~ Labrador, 12 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Le Coupe - "Le Coupe" I must admit that I had been awaiting this LP for some time, as it had been one of those things which was promised to us forever but never seemed to come out. I didn't buy their first single but got the song Our Way on a Shelflife comp LP, and I just loved it. It was very typical of the label, was recorded excellently and although a slow song it is fantastically brilliant with gorgeous guitar. However, this album sounds nothing like that song as it has light electronic effects and subtle guitar, and while at first I thought that might be a bad thing I'm here to tell you this thing is just fab-fan-flunking-tastic. I'm sure it will be said (and I'd be remiss not to add my two cents) but this thing sounds almost exactly like Ivy at times, and that's not just the music but the voice of lead singer Stacy Michelson as well. Like she's Dominique Durands lost sister or something. However, there is just enough of their own identity that they pull it off. (maybe it's just that Ivy is that great) This album is deliciously sombre, with really heartfelt vocals and melodies and sounds that play on the moods perfectly. Songs like Stars in The Movies and When I think are so loin bustingly beautiful in that tragic heartfelt way that it almost takes my breath. While they have a sound akin to Ivy the songs themselves pack all the emotional punches of say Club 8. This is without a doubt the best intro album of the year, without question, and possibly the best period. My goodness, I don't care how long it took anymore, it was worth the wait. Even if they never make another record they've given us a real pop gem. I don't even want to remove it from the player to review another disc, I'm so taken by it. I literally have not listened to anything else and I got a bit of good stuff lately, this is all I want to hear right now. Don't walk, run.
Label ~ Shelflife, 10 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.8
Le Sport - "Euro Deluxe Dance Party" OK, you know how sometimes you get a disc and you wonder if one (or some, or all) of the band is gay? That's not the case here because believe me, there is nothing left to wonder about. Hailing from Sweden, this is the most overtly gay act to reach orbit since Britains Bronski Beat in the 80's. Now, I hated the Bronski Beat but most of that was because of the incredibly irritating vocals of it's lead singer Jimmy Somerville. The penile fixations were just icing on the cake. In this case, there are no irritating vocals, and while on the surface the music is semi a-typical upbeat Euro nightclub schlock, it unquestionably finds moments of pop rapture such as on It's Not The End Of The World which is about as brilliant an upbeat pop gem as one could want. In fact if this was all like that it would have been simply incredible, but alas they too fell into the trap of not being able to separate their personal lives from their work and we are not only treated to songs about dating Neil Tennant or telling girls how much cuter their brother is, there is actually a ditty called Show Me Your Penis, and that's literally the extent of the vocals. "Show me your penis, c'mon show me your dick..." repeated ad nauseum. That's really the song. Now I've beaten this horse enough for you all to know I'm not a prude, but this does not belong in popular music. Dicks, pricks, pussies, tits, arse and all the wretched things we do with them, has NO place in pop music. It's the easiest and most baseless level to drop to and not only requires no talent, it detracts from whatever talent you do have. The non overt tracks on this (more than half) are quite good however, so if you are an adult who knows what he's getting into and you like semi super queer disco music, it doesn't come more recommended than this.
Label ~ SIWIHW, 9 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Legends - "Up Against The Legends" I had originally thought this was a group effort, as Johan told me a while back he was going to be working with a "bunch" of people. However, the back of the disc clearly says all songs were written and produced by him. There is no question he is the most prolific writer of exceptional material alive today. He already has compiled a body of work many artists who work 40 years would be envious of. On this outing he has taken a decidedly darker turn as this album embraces a very lo fi and feedback drenched sound. The opener, Call It Ours is a very poppy and chart happy number, even though the sound often over modulates and in fact even breaks apart at times. It's a fine line to walk, recording like rank amateurs yet still preventing the music from becoming unlistenable because of it. (one or two songs do wander too close to it for me) Not surprisingly one of the more common semblances is to the Jesus & Mary Chain as on Your Song which is right out of the Chain playbook, the only difference is that Johans voice is even more over modulated on it than Jim's ever was. On the songs that are very up tempo (which is most of it) I think I hear a melodic similarity to the Aussie band the Hoodu Gurus from time to time. It's playful, catchy, and has a 70's sort of pop song sensibility. OK, so why the surprise? The worlds greatest pop chameleon turned another color right before our eyes, and he made it look as simple as breathing. (if we could only get the rest of the world to notice) I respect him as much as I am jealous for he truly is the king of popular music. Elvis has indeed left the building......
sound clip -
There And Back Again
Label ~ Labrador, 12 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Legends - "Public Radio" How embarrassing. I mean really, could I be getting to this any later? The fact that their new album (which this no longer is) is already out now is the icing to the cake of my failure. I might as well review the Beatles Rubber Soul next..... However, if you are new to this scene and this band is unknown to you, it is essentially the project of Club 8, Acid House Kings, Labrador (the label) honcho Johan Angergärd and it also signaled that this band was not going to be a steady sounding affair, but rather on each album they were going to mine an entirely different pop esthetic. The first time it was a lo-fi fuzz and feedback time warp to the late 60's meets My Bloody Valentine. This time it's about 1979, and the target sound is classic Cure. In fact, so much of this sounds SO much like the Cure I really can't believe Robert Smith didn't throw a tantrum over it, unless of course he doesn't know about it. This is dark and brooding, yet the guitars retain that lilt of optimism and the songs themselves are without question generally pop oriented. So if you are partial to that era and sound, you can hardly go wrong here. And one can't take them to task for the seeming plagiarism, because on their new album they sound nothing like they do here. This band is the indie version of a chameleon, which probably would have been a better name for them had it not already been taken. Definitely one for your shopping cart.
Label ~ Labrador, 12 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.9
Legends - "Facts And Figures" In an effort to try to catch up to this mans productivity I actually am reviewing this not long after it got released for once. I was lucky enough to hear some of the songs on here played live when they toured this past summer and I liked them very much then, but again it could be seen that another major direction change was in the works. The cover art for this and the first EP were unexpected, having a very Haus Der Kunst look (or is it the '36 Berlin olympics?) which seems less surprising upon hearing the first track off of this, Heart which sounds like a tribute to Kraftwerk. On the next track Play It For Today things change however as it retains to synth beat edge but has a distinct New Order sound. Despite re-inventing himself for the third time now the songs all carry his distinct touch so that while other styles are obvious, his hand on it all is also very clear. To cut to the chase they've all been good, but for whatever reason I think I like this one the best so far. After so many albums, from Club 8 to Acid House Kings to the Legends how much gas this guy has left in his tank is anyones guess, but as long as he keeps taking us on trips like this we should just enjoy it and stop worrying about the gauges. If you are fond of late 70's and early 80's techno synth beat pop, this comes highly recommended. Mine came with a bonus DVD and while I don't know if it is limited or not, it plays like crap and the videos are terrible, so don't go out of your way to get that version, especially if it costs more.
Label ~ Labrador, 10 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Jens Lekman - "Maple Leaves EP" Jesus Christ, for months now all I've heard is Rocky Dennis, Rocky Dennis, ROCKY FUCKING DENNIS! Ok, I said, who the hell is Rocky Dennis?! It turns out it's the AKA of a another swede, now going by his real name of Jens Lekman. At first too I did not get the significance of the name, but now I know it is indeed the name of the poor young man the movie Mask was made about. (the movie with Cher, not Jim Carrey) Hardly ironic he should dedicate himself to a kid so troubled by pain, as Jens is the new poster boy of the troubled, the king of all things gone awry. Yet he turns it into the most majestic grandeur you ever heard in your life. In Black Cab where he sings "Oh no God damn, I missed the last tram......I killed the party again" to the most emotive and glorious musical line I've heard in ages. He's Morrissey and Marr in one go, and what's more he leaves the sexual ingenue entirely out of it. Misery belongs to everyone, and so does redemption, and that is what Jens "rocky dennis" Lekman is all about. I can't even decide how to rate this. All I know is you have to own it, especially as his LP is out in scandinavia now and the stuff from these EP's is not on it, and you will certainly want it. Finally, I did some digging on the real Roy "Rocky" Dennis and it is a sad story. He died in 1980 at 16, and the film didn't do him justice, as he was given long curly hair like some classic rock freak. I can't speak for him, but something tells me when I look at him that had he lived he'd have been a Smiths punter, so if you are curious you can view the real kid here.. Thanks a lot Rocky, and I hope you are in a better place.
Label ~ Secretly Canadian, 4 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Jens Lekman - "Rocky Dennis EP" If this is an indication of the progression of this guys talent, we may not survive the LP. This EP is the dis-avowal of the nome de plume Rocky Dennis, and almost all the songs pay homage to Rocky one way or another. The opener, Rocky Dennis Farewell Song To The Blind Girl is in a word gorgeous. One of the most lovely, sublime and simple adorable cuts of pop heaven I have heard in a long time. Heart rending strings, Jens voice, which is quite distinct, very deep (reminds me of Holm) and while it is emotive and plaintive, it almost comes across as a narrative. The lyrical brilliance also continues on this disc and in this song, with the lines "Someday I'll be stuffed in some museum, scaring little kids. With the inscription "Carpe Diem".... something I never did..." It's followed by the haunting instrumental Rocky Dennis in Heaven and then the towering Jens Lekmans Farewell Song To Rocky Dennis. Yeah, it if wasn't so brilliant the redundancy would become trite, but that's part of the brilliance. It doesn't. That song starts with a drop dead piano line with a brilliant sort of half stop in it, and Lekman accompanying with finger snaps. At one point the line does stop, but he keeps snapping, and then after 2 solo snaps it comes back a bit fuller. The air, the tension, is superb and it is the most exquisite musical moment I have had in some time. The brilliant lyrical double play continues here with lines like "Momma told me I was born a liar, Momma told me I was born with a belly to lie on, Momma told me I was born a liar, Momma told me I was born with a heart to reply on". I want to cry right now. I have no idea how long this wave of his is going to run, how deep his genius, and I really mean genius, is. But if I were you I wouldn't wait. The train is in the station, so get the hell on board. If quiet is the new loud, Jens is roaring so loudly the whole world must take notice. This is just magnificent.
Label ~ Secretly Canadian, 4 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Jens Lekman - "You Are The Light EP" This is actually the last release before the album here in the US, but I got a copy of and heard the LP before it so my perspective was skewed. It was also called the Julie EP over there and had a different cover (although the knight theme belongs to it) and the song mix is slightly different as this does not contain the song Julie. (it is on the LP) I will however review this first for continuity. I am beginning to believe that like all great "bands" Jens will have his most delicious moments on singles and not albums. The opener and title track here is a glorious slice of Phil Specter 60's produced and horn accented pop glory. This is the mine Lekman plumbs the best, and he does it on this track with some bravado. I Saw Her At The Anti-War Demonstration is an excellent follow up track, and the next, the infamous A Sweet Summers Night On Hammer Hill, with it's audience participation, jerky but touching melody line, live production sound and it's genuine and true emotions so blatantly on display makes it a pop gem for the ages. The fourth song, the tender and touching A Man Walks Into A Bar is basically him deeply crooning abstract yet cutting lyrics, and he does this sort of thing with sublime genius. It is followed by the last track, a short reprise of the title cut. I would suggest you buy all the EP's and stick the songs on one comp disc to make a "quasi" album from them. Together they represent a glimpse into what is most basic and human about pop music that is made very, very well.
Label ~ Secretly Canadian, 5 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.5
Jens Lekman - "When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog" Jens is the most hyped artist of last year, and this album so looked forward to I had to get an import copy before it came out here in the US. I am not sure how to even begin describing it. It is like nothing we have seen for a very long time, and in fact possibly ever. You are tested early as the first line on the opening track is "Did you take tram #7 to heaven, did you eat your banana from 7-11?". Yes, that is fairly inane, and I doubt anyone but him could have gotten away with it. It happens again later with "we went home to her place and cooked up some chili, it warmed us from the inside because the outside was chilly" from The Cold Swedish Winter. However it is delivered with such naivety he pulls it off, somehow. This album begins with 2 new and slow songs, then kicks off on track three, You Are The Light, the title track of the previous EP which is as upbeat as this record gets. It is followed by 2 more previous EP songs. So it is not till track 6 we get to more new material on the song Sylvia and that trend continues to the end. Overall, it's perhaps what you'd expect, although there aren't as many "up" moments as you get on the EP's. That does not imply that what is here is boring, as it is quite poignant and touching. This has a definite mood: Laid back, sombre with a wry smile, the happy face on the rainy day. Somewhat to my chagrin in it's attempt to reclaim the past it has a degree of the fake record "noise" I detest in a number of places, and the man revels in poor production values and "old" sounding er... sound. The real miracle is he gets away with it. In fact, it almost certainly would not be as good produced better. Jens has the ability to tear your heart out and say "Here, here it is... now look at it", and the methods he uses are most retro and sublime. Is it beautiful? Yes. Is it brilliant? Yes. Is it his best work? Amazingly, I don't think so. But it is so close to it that it hardly matters and really, all one can do about it is gape and awe.
Label ~ Service, 12 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Jens Lekman - "The Opposite Of Hallelujah" This is a limited edition EP jens did with the label Evil Evil, copies of which are available for sale in the Popsicle shop. Yes, Sir Luke from Popsicle met Jens and got these from him directly and even had him sign this one for me. The shitty part about that deal is Luke asked him what he thought of the Spinzone, and Jens replied he had never heard of it. We all know Jens is computer challenged, but hell, what a kick in the nuts that was....Well, I never did this for recognition anyway... From the get go this is a typical Lekman EP. That means it is more cohesive and better than his album was, his EP's being almost "micro-moments". The songs have the quirky arrangement and brilliant horn and string bits of legend that one would expect from his past EP's, and the songs all seem to belong together somehow. I am a tad annoyed at the loud needed pops on here, especially at the start of No Time For Breaking Up as well as the following record noise thru out it. However, the song has pealing church like bells in the background which makes the white noise sound almost reminiscent of snow falling and it gives the song a very Christmas feel. It could be genius so maybe I'll excuse that practice this ONE time. Again, if you like him this is a must have. If you don't, this one might be the one to make you change your mind. In any case it will have collector value, so it's worth buying. Just keep it a few years then sell it on ebay for $50. In any case don't wait, quantities are very limited.
Label ~ Evil Evil, 4 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Jens Lekman - "Night Falls Over Kortedala" In the early stages of his career I felt Jens mirrored the Smiths quite a bit. (mirrored, didn't sound like) He came out of nowhere, had mystique (the Rocky Dennis thing) and torpedoed us with a series of absolutely brilliant singles. When the debut album came out however it was mostly a rehash of what went before with a few filler tracks, not many of which were overly noteworthy. To his credit I think he realized what happened and the singles dried up mostly since then. Still, I was not sure what this would be like and in fact I didn't even order it right away when it came out as I wasn't in much of a rush about it. Poor, poor, pitifull me. This is a work of epoch proportions. I'd like to say the man is an ecclectic genius, but ecclecticism ought to come off as wrong to the rest of us, yet this man manages to mix such a variety of styles, musical genres and musical instruments that common sense would tell us it can't work, it shouldn't work, and the fact that nobody else has done it before proves it. Well, that's just because we didn't have him before because when he does it, it makes as perfect sense as anything in this world does. 50's do wop, calypso, zydeco accordian, dub, trance, flamenco clapping, torrents of strings and in fact just about anything you can think of, it's on here. Yet as if he were the mass of a great moutain, he has compressed this mixture into a diamond that glitters and shines from start to finish as a masterpiece of modern pop. That album cover is no lie, and it's as accurate as it too is brilliant. On this album you can find peace in the hands of heavenly comfort. Leave your cares on the roadside wearly traveller and come inside, set you hat and coat down and be at ease. You are among friends, and while you rest let me regale you with tales of beauty, love and irony. Were that it was as easy as all that... we can only thank Providence that Jens agreed to share his dementia with us so we too could see the world as he does. A magnificent accomplishment and a massive talent.
Label ~ Secretly Canadian, 12 Tracks, 2007
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Don Lennon - "Maniac" One might say this review is really a day late and dollar short. Does anyone really care about a twelve year old album? If you don't yet own it, you damn well should. I don't know what it is about this guy that makes him so incredibly likeable. Yes, he's earnest, honest, sincere, thoughtful, kind and above all genuine but the really amazing part is somehow all that comes across in his music. I like Don, I mean I really like Don. All of his albums kind of landed on me all at once, and I worked my way backwards for whatever reason and it just kept getting better. Then I got to this album, which simply floors me and leaves me entirely speechless. Yes, all he sings about is parties, dancing and talking to girls and in fact the word party appears more times on this album than on probably every other album combined from 1997. It matters not. That's another amazing aspect he brings - A quirky nerdy-ness, and he can be forgiven just about any trespass. Songs like Dance Music which are amazing both for their simplicity as well as their catchy brilliance. When the songs gets to a lovely musical bridge near the end, it's like a knife in the heart. It's like this way thruout this album, as on the sublime Walk On By with it's ultra swank and sexy organ lines, cool lyrics and then the orchestra kicks in...... and while the songs may traffic in late teen themes it's not like we all didn't go thru it. When Don sings "Once I went to a party, with some kids I didn't know...... I didn't even want to..... they made me go, they made me go, they made me party all the time.... and make new friends." Yes, it's the acme of simplicity, but I have so been there, I'm sure you've been there and while it might be a while ago for some of us, when he sings it man it really strikes a chord. Perhaps the magic of his songs (aside from the incredibly good arrangements and melody) is that he is like the Edward R Murrow of teen angst, and general human observation. Don can illuminate what appears no more than the most trivial of threads, but it's one that stitches the fabric of all our lives together. He shows you his heart, and then you realize it's your own heart you see thru him. I love him for that. I say this not lightly - Don Lennon is a national treasure, and this is his finest, most shining moment of an album. Pure, sparkling, heartfelt genius and one of the very best of the past 20 years. Find it, buy it, listen to it, love it. You will feel the joy.
Label ~ Martin Philip, 14 Tracks, 1997
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Don Lennon - "Don Lennon" While Don's debut dealt with parties and girls, his sophomore effort has a general theme running thru it of commenting on "rock" bands. It's clear this is the album where his analytical "talking out loud" lyrical style really began. It would hardly be much different than if I began singing this review, only if I did it it would suck. As before, it works because 1 - He's endearing and 2- The songs have brilliant, catchy melodies and great arrangements. However the music is a bit simpler on this album, less instrumentation and a little more reliance on guitar which is not a bad thing given how he plays, but what I consider his "Bragg like" ability to stand up and do it entirely alone was starting to show here as well. While all the songs are great my faves are possibly the non music commentary ones, such as the exquisitely delicate Halloween and the genuine and quite touching Get To Know My Neighbors which I simply adore. The only thing I can even say about this album that bothers me is the songs tend to be perhaps too short, most clocking in at just about 2 minutes even. They are so good, the melodies so strong, you are waiting for and almost expecting (or is that hoping) every song will break off into a bridge and come back to repeat the lyrics, fall into the chorus and then end at the 3+ minute mark, only they don't. Oh well, you can't always have it your way. So for that alone it doesn't get the full Monty, but never the less this is a damn fine album and along with the first I consider this a must own.
Label ~ MP, 14 Tracks, 1999
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.6
Don Lennon - "Downtown" Our Don continues somewhat where he left off on his last album with his focus on rock bands, only this time he really zeros in on his targets. The first to take it on the chin is Dave Matthews. In fact the sublime sarcasm in which he tears Dave apart on Matthews Comes Alive is simply a joy to partake in. Then it's Lenny Kravitz turn, as he gives the people of Lisbon a warning, that he'll be "gone in the morning..." but of course you can buy your piece of him before then. Don even comments on his own musical past in the delicate and touching Boston Music Scene. On a whole as well I'd say this album is a bit more introspective and less pop oriented than the two that went before. Not necessarily slow, just a bit less energetic. It ends oddly enough with a song called John Cale where Don apparently has a dream where he is Cale, and finds himself re-living his life - from speaking with a Welsh accent to being stoned in the back of a limo bitching about Lou Reed. It's the kind of song only Don would do, or could do, and it's one of the highlights on here. I can't say enough about this guy and his work stands well above the majority of his contemporaries. It is a shame that in the sewer of the music world we live in today he should go as unknown as he is. Seek Don out, you'll be glad you did.
Label ~ Secretly Canadian, 10 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.4
Don Lennon - "Routine" When we saw the Acid House Kings In Brooklyn Don opened for them, and there was something strangely familiar about the whole thing but it wasn't until the next day when I got home that I realized he had done a cover for them on their most recent EP which I had only just gotten. How they found this kid from New England (now new york) I don't know, but he was very "enchanting" live. He was selling copies of this his latest (but no longer "new") fourth album so we bought one and talked with him for a bit and the funniest part was he was convinced I was going to slag this. Now, it really is genuinely hard to decide what to make of him, but after some thought he is without question the Jerry Seinfeld of indie pop, and he does indeed write and sings songs about nothing. John Ritter died, he saw reports about it on tv, he disagreed with what they said and then he tells you what he thinks. That's a song. So are the rest of them, about trust funds, saturday night live and so forth. What's more these stories are not written and told in prose or with any alliteration, they are written and delivered like a report and in fact his "singing" at times is almost closer to talking. (although on a few tracks he lets loose and actually makes a genuine pop song out of it) That probably should suck, but somehow it doesn't. In fact, at it's best, the guitar is often whimsical and unique, and with the emotion being conveyed being so genuine you can't help but smile. Some of the songs I heard him play live had simply brilliant guitar bits but sadly they are not on here, and must be from his other albums. He is unquestionably unique, and there is nothing and no one quite like him. The fact that he sort of looks like a real world version of Robert Carradines character Lewis Skolnick from Revenge of the Nerds only sweetens the deal. Yeah, I like this.... He's an american Billy Bragg, only instead of bitching about Thatcher, he talks about Jimmy Fallon. It's quaint, and a refreshing change.
Label ~ Martin Philip, 10 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.9
Don Lennon - "Radical" This album represents I believe the fifth long player from this dislocated Massachussets youth and I have to say he never ceases to amaze. In the past I had sort of referred to him as americas musical answer to Jerry Seinfeld, which is still true, but I also think if Rushmores Max Fisher made a record this would likely be it. This thing is not only ecclectic and all over the place (with some songs divided by him having monologues with people telling stories) nobody could have pulled this off but him. He has the sort of winsome earnestness young Max Fisher does, and he's so engrossed in his "art" he doesn't think to worry if it works or not and as a result it somehow does. Whether the funk laced A Secret Band or the casually etherial and somewhat beautiful Our Bodies nobody else would or could write songs like this, and most especially pull them off. How does this compare to his past work? Having a band with him it's a bit fuller sounding musically, and I would perhaps say it has a more general "upbeat" pop sensibility to it. A number of the songs are, well, I won't say brilliant, you can decide that, but you'll be singing them all day I guarantee that. It gets a little slow towards the end but over all this is quite a solid effort and it appears his maturity and demensia are beginning to coalesce quite nicely indeed. Ich Liebe Don.
Label ~ Martin Philip, 14 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7.9
Leopold - "Dreaming Is For Anyone" What can I say, when a record is Swedish and some people are ranting about it I tend to buy without even thinking or checking, even though this was another record that needed to be filed under "quiet is the new loud" (my apologies to the Kings of Convenience). In the case of the Kings Of Convenience I thought they were a tad slow at first but over time I've come to love them. In this case it started out well enough, and the second track October is quite special, but there is no question that a real torpor settles over the affair before this is done. In fact I have yet to get thru it in one listen. If I tried I'd be reaching for my hanging rope for sure. I also don't think it's a case of coming to terms with it like I did with the Kings, as this is just so monotone and repetitive it's like Chinese water torture. Perhaps that's a good analogy. The first few drops of this were indeed refreshing, one extremely so, but after a while it began to numb and then it became simply unbearable. Will I get an awakening on this too at some point in the future? I think in this case, no. There are a few nice cuts, one brilliant one, and the rest is an unendurable dull razor. I'd have rather my head cut clean, and mores the pity. Still, they have something and perhaps one day they will realize it. This isn't quite it.
Label ~ Take One More Take, 10 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Sondre Lerche - "Faces Down" Better than Belle and Sebastian. So goes the tag line to Norways newest pop phenom, Sondre Lerche (pronounced "ler-ke" and is also his middle name. His last is Vaular) whom I believe hails from the same town as the also topping (from Röyksopp-ing) Kings of Convenience. Well, a statement like that needs some backing, so lets see what we have here. The opening track to this disc, Dead Passengers is quirky and jazz like and it's infectious melody does not take long before it has you it's prisoner. The special quality of the sublime melody and it's marriage to his unique voice and it's connection, both emotionally and audibly to the music, becomes clear very soon. You Know So Well follows and is the track which is also included on the disc as a bonus video. (which actually plays) This album is lauded for is "orchestration" and the emphasis in which that term is used makes you think it's going to be bigger and fuller, but it isn't. The songs tend to be backed by strings etc.. and they really add more of a level of character than orchestration, whatever that really means. On this track it adds a nice wistful touch and you become aware that it's really the vocal strength of Sondre which makes this album what it is. Sleep On Needles is the closest thing to a "rocking" number on this album and in some respects reminds me of Aztec Camera in that it is rocking but it is also still using acoustic guitars. The song is funny in that it has a surprising keyboard outro which sounds exactly like the melody line to "please, please, be my...be my little baby....be my baby now.." and you almost expect to hear him chime in with that but he doesn't. A shame, that would have made the song magical. Of all the tracks here, Suffused With Love I think might be the best song and really sort of encapsulates his sound and the feeling of this album as a whole. One song, Side Two, is just a bit too dirgelike and overstays it's welcome time wise perhaps, but it's the only critique I can manage against this whole lp. But anyway, so is this better than Belle? Well, it isn't like Belle, so I wish people would stop using the comparison. Belle, being from the UK is full of irony and double entendres. Sondre is Norwegian and all the emotion, all the feeling, is genuine. If you like Belle, you'll certainly like this however. I had originally given this a 10 not a 10+ because I felt as great as this is he can do better in time (he's that good) but I then decided that wasn't entirely fair. I have been listening to little else but this and that fact alone should make it merit that special score.
Postscript: I just saw this boy play live last night (2/20/03) and he blew us all away. The talent level was just incredible, his voice is magical and his guitar playing inspired. By all means see him live if you can. Reminded me of a young Roddy Frame only more heartfelt and less angry and that's a welcome relief. Tour dates are posted on his site here.
Label ~ Astralwerks, 12 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Sondre Lerche - "Don't Be Shallow EP" This is an aptly named EP. I have great hopes for this boy, as his debut is one of the years best and live he was phenomenal. The problem is he is very talented but HE knows it. Most artists think they are great, but inside know they're just wanks like everyone else. This kid is special and the problem I think is he knows it. Of the 4 new tracks here the title one is probably the best with I Know I Know close behind, the rest being only fair to less so and the recording quality is not always optimal. It sounds, it's hard to peg, but not quite right at times. I don't know if he was going for that or it was a result of the studio or perhaps my rig is just pulling it out because it's so revealing, but I don't care for it. What mostly troubles me though are the 4 bonus live tracks. I just saw him play these songs live only a few months ago in a small, intimate dump of a club. What I heard and what is on this disc is not the same thing. Here he is trying SO hard to be artsy, to add flair, importance and literally make himself and the songs something that they are not to the point that it utterly ruins it for me. As the quote goes, "He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom". When I saw him, he just played, and it was glorious. Here, he's "articulating" them, going well beyond what they are meant to be because he knows a tape is rolling, and it's a genuine shame. Overtly choppy, almost bluesy licks, odd breath stops, and a bullshit artsy air that does not become him. Come to terms with yourself my boy, before you fall off that pedestal you're placing yourself on, because it will be a LONG way down and I'd hate to see that happen. Repeat this mantra Sondre: "I'm just a kid from Norway, I'm just a kid from Norway..."
Label ~ Astralwerks, 8 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 6.8
Sondre Lerche - "Two Way Monologue" I was deeply disturbed by the fall from grace Sondre took on his last EP which I was not overly fond of. The problem I thought lie in the fact that the songs on his first album were written when he was really quite young, 16-18 or so. He's now an old man in his 20's, and sadly I think my comparison of him to Roddy Frame is appearing all too apt. Frame gave us a brilliant debut in his youth called "High Land, Hard Rain" and it went south after that, in a slow, morbid sort of way. The following LP "Knife" wasn't awful, just a bit disappointing. The one after that, "Love" was noticeably devoid of merit and the next "Stray" was wholly forgettable. So we find ourselves here with this. The use of orchestration on songs is basically gone, as is the classic pop hooks, and what's left is just a sort of empty feeling. This is basically a minimalist affair trying to rely on "art" and given the lyrical quality of his debut, what's here can only be considered a rank failure. I know what is wrong. He had nothing to say, he didn't know how to say it, he's buying all the press about his kid stardom and he felt compelled to write a follow up LP so soon. To break this down, I'd say 20% is less than good, 40% is not bad, and the last 40% simply exists, which is a nearly exactly how I'd describe "Knife". Generally speaking I can't say this is bad, but neither can I say there is anything on it that makes me give a damn. Not one single song on here was I drawn to, nothing here at all that motivated me. The album is lost in a quasi country/jazz/folk/new age twinge that makes me think even he doesn't know what it is he wants to do. So how does one rate apathy? I don't know, but I don't recommend this at all. What a god damned shame it is too.
Label ~ Astralwerks, 12 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Les Trefles - "Blame It On The Bossa Nova EP" This five song cover disc by the band Les Trefles is the debut outing of a Japanese woman named Mayue Arai. In choosing the songs she covers she really covered a lot of territory, (pun intended) from the very aptly bossa nova sounding title track, to the Pet Shop Boys like Downtown which while sung in japanese loses nothing and in fact gains several ounces of charm. Her accent when she sings in english is also a toe curler, but then I have always been partial to female japanese voices. The variety on here showcases her talent well especially on the meteoric cover of Plastic Bertrands Ca Plane Pour Moi which is about as infectious as a song gets. This is simply a brilliant little disc and I was so in love with it I tried to get Luke to stock it in the Popsicle shop, but it wasn't swedish and it wasn't an album and he said no. (the bastard) If an album happens I'll probably be able to make Luke get that when it comes out, but until or in case if you can find a copy of this get it. (I can lead you here but you're on your own after that) Until then, or if you're one of our japanese readers this is one disc you are sure to fall in love with because as far as the j-pop genre goes, this has it all.
Label ~ Monarch, 5 Tracks, 2006
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Leslies - "Tottaly Brilliant" If we can thank the Happydeadmen for setting the tone of future Swede pop/rock, then the Leslies can be said to be it's shining star. Creating a sound so damn joyful and unmistakeably their own, it's as individual a signature as the chirpings of Johnny Marrs Smiths work. This, their first LP, is a sparkling gem of guitar pop/rock with wonderful vocals, great lyrics and enough musical hooks to empty the entire ocean of pop kids. The inside of the jacket carries only the words "Summers always end too fast..." which really sums up this band. This is the sound of sunlight breaking in and out of the trees as you zip along in a Saab convertible thru the cool, crisp air of a Swedish summer coming to a close. This entire LP is full of mind expanding pop songs, my favorite probably being The Lime Song which showcases not only their ability to rock but the pop genius of this band as well. There's so much to choose from, you just want to take it all. You can, and you should. One of the absolute must owns of the current indie scene.
Label ~ Harry Lime, 12 Tracks, 1996
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7.2
Leslies - "Of Today - For Today" The second Lp is often the transition Lp, and that is what happened to this band. Most of the undiluted pop overtures of the first album are gone, to be replaced by a slower more "Gene" like sound. That is perhaps most noticeable on what is clearly the best track on this outing, Hey! I'm Here, which indeed does sound alot like Gene at it's best and it is an awfully good song. Unfortunately, they fail to capture that magic on most of the rest of this Lp. There were some other great songs from this period such as The Girl From Collins Ave. which appeared not on this LP but the Sound of Young Sweden compilation Lp instead. Hey! is pretty much the only titanic cut on here, with half this Lp being good and the other half being a bit forgetable. Alas, such is life. This Lp reminds me of a band trying to be brave and re-define itself when in actuality it wasn't needed, at least not yet. Fortunately, the Phoenix would indeed rise again.....
Label ~ Jigsaw, 13 Tracks, 1999
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Leslies - "Leslies" How's that song go, "to everything, turn, turn, turn?" So it would be with this band on their third Lp, taking a rocking return to the greatness that was their first album. That displays itself right away on the opening track To Give it All which is a heady return to the sound of yore. Still, one is unprepared for the pop onslaught that is the next song Dear Friend, which is as brilliant and driving a song as this band has ever done. This cut could easily rocket to the top of and rule any music chart in the world if anyone was given half a chance to hear it. (sadly, we know that will never happen) It's followed by I Close My Eyes which finally shows they've managed to meld their sound to a slower, groovier kind of anthem. The sort of thing they too often failed at on the last Lp. I never thought they'd top their first Lp but the more I listen to this the more I am unsure. This Lp is the perfect marriage of guitar rock and melodic pop, the likes of which very few are able to do these days, and frankly I think nobody can do it better. They deserve all the laurels we can throw their way. They are like a Caesar, lately cast aside for a petty failure, only to return from the Gaul we sent them to triumphant and Godlike. Yes, that is it. Leslies, the true and only Gods of rock. This band should be bigger than U2. POSTSCRIPT: It's hardly much of a difference, but I upped the rating from 10 to 10+, as it truly deserves it. Without question one of the best guitar rock/pop records to see the light of day in a long, long time.
Label ~ Labrador, 11 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.8
Liberty Ship - "Tide" This is the long awaited long player from this Nottingham UK band, and as always the question is does it live up to the hype? It's almost disadvantageous to make a good single or two and then lag on the Lp because everyone gets all worked up and builds the expectations up. What I first noticed is that this band sounds a lot more like Slipslide than I had previously ever thought, which isn't good or bad, just a point of interest. It can also be said from hearing it that this band absolutely belongs on Matinee. That means it is a great label but it could use a little bit more diversity. Pidgeon holing is not a good thing. That would imply what I'm driving at then would be that this is a very good record but that it lacks a degree of uniqueness. I think that is also true. It pays homage to the late 80's jangle scene, but manages to sound clearly current. There are some glorious moments, such as Final Kick (the chiming guitar bridge near the very end slays), the sublimely catchy Baseball Caps and Novas or the delicious Cabin Fever. You know what? I don't care if it does remind me of other stuff, to a more or less degree. What it also reminds me of is the kind of music I love, and brilliant albums in general. It is both of these things as well. Perfect it is not, but it is awfully close, and there's nothing wrong with that. It is very well recommended if you like guitar pop, and what cad among us will deny liking that? Yes, this is the good stuff.
Label ~ Matinee, 12 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 7.9
Lightning Seeds - "Tilt" This is older but I saw T had it so I had him put it on, and after he did I almost ran for the airsick bag. (I think his aura of negativity taints everything) I needed to bring it home for a fair critique, and since I was bashing both the UK and the ancients this week it seemed appropriate to include it. This band is the vehicle of Ian Broudie who made his mark producing some of the greatest records in the 80's. (Echo and the Bunnymen etc..) and had he done nothing but that he would have left a great legacy. However, in the mid late eighties he invented this band for himself and his debut record was one of the most brilliant synth pop records of the period. At this point I'm not sure how many records he even has out yet, as the middle few only seemed to be coming out on import and weren't that good so I didn't get them. I think the problem is that his sound is so streamlined it doesn't leave much room for variety in it and if the songs get just average it seems even worse. (especially at $22 a record) He tries to break out a bit from that here by dabbling in far out disco and Motown blues, and I don't know if that's good or not. There are parts to some songs that aren't so good, but then the song really gets going, and many of the Motown elements actually work. I like track three If Only quite a bit and it's probably the best track on the LP. There are some duds however, and that's the real crux of the problem here. This is probably only available as an import and this thing has a $21.99 sticker on it and frankly it isn't worth that. (few things are) If you find it for less (like less than $10, and that means used) and you liked his stuff in the past you'll probably find a few tracks on here to make it worthwhile. I'd never shell out $22 for it though. I'd give him the same advice as I gave Billy Bragg: Don't do it just to do it. It cheapens you and robs us. Still, this isn't awful, it just isn't great and since I have great Lightning Seeds records I could be listening to it begs the question "Why do I need this?" Aye, there's the rub.....
Label ~ Epic, 12 Tracks, 1999
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9
Lights Out Asia - "Garmonia" Our T is really a pip. This arrives one day in the mail and on my way back to the house I stopped in at Tims (he lives next to me) to ask him something and he asked what I had, I said I didn't know, I opened the package and saw this, and he said "let me hear it". So we played it on his stereo and he commenced to tear it apart and proclaim it "suts". This is nothing new for him. The funny part is, when I stand next to him during one of these enunciations I almost always tend to agree. So it was some time later and with much trepidation that I put this on to listen to in order to try to review it. Amazingly, with the absence of his presence it no longer "sutted". Truly, it's a scientific marvel that ought to be studied, but what can one expect from a man who hated New Orders "Low Life" LP the first time he heard it? He carries a shroud of depression so vast it envelops anyone near him. So anyway, this is a Milwaukee band featuring ex Aurore Rien members and musically it is a dead ringer for a 4AD "This Mortal Coil" LP, with a dash of the band Indio. (Yes, you probably don't know them, sorry. Rewind to 1989) At times they get a little into the modern elevator techno sound done by bands like E*Vox (which I really like) and at others they wander closer to the Cocteau Twins, but in either case it is decidedly adult in sound. Vocals are male, and tend to be few and far between. I've since heard the lead singer's really young, but he sounds like he's 35 with a classic deepish art rock sort of voice. Like anything of this genre it comes closer to being filed under mood music, but it is damn fine mood music. Long trip in the car on an overcast day, a rainy sunday afternoon at home on the sofa, or cooking dinner and you really don't want to. All perfect times to sink into this album. An excellent first effort.
Label ~ Sun Sea Sky, 11 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.1
Limited Sight Distance - "4 - Song EP " Again, another band citing it's influences as "Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips, Patti Smith...etc.." I am beginning to feel like that chick in the silence of the lambs movie. You know, the one down in the well...."Help me!" "it puts on the lotion..." "Somebody HELP me!" "PUT ON THE FUCKING LOTION!" sob, sob, sob.... The folks from this band probably think I'm insane at this point, and I think I'm heading that way. There is absolutely nothing harder than to force yourself to listen to music you are not of nature drawn to, and to listen to it so deeply that you can critique it is very exhausting. That is part of the reason alot of this stuff has taken so long to get done. That and my laptop was down. So here I am back in the well, and I have to put more lotion on. OK, here we go....... This band is fronted by a woman named Stefanie Fix who is lead singer/songwriter. The opener, So Much Trouble starts in an almost industrial manner, but once it gets going it clearly has the feel of some 70's women artists, but it also reminds me an awful lot of the band Curve. Some stuff by Curve I simply adore and some I don't care for, but this song has a fairly funky beat to it (funky as in slightly dis-jointed) and while I'm sure T-Baby would hate it I think it's growing on me. The next song is a lot slower and has a lot of emotive "atmosphere" about it and it too reminds me a great deal of Curve, especially her voice. The third track is an alt country styled song and is the one I like least, or should I say the one I don't like at all. The last track, It's Only Me is a nice heartfelt little song only here the comparison which is much more accurate would be Cowboy Junkies, AND I like it. So what does this prove? That an occasional sado masochistic ritual can be a catharsis? That all is not always what it appears to be? That I'm so bedevilled I don't know what I'm saying anymore? That this is actually a half decent little EP? All of the above will do, now put on the lotion......
Label ~ Hand To Mouth, 4 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.9
Lasse Lindh - "You Wake Up At Sea Tac" Lasse is often called the Swedish Lloyd Cole and he is perhaps even better known for his vocal duties on the new Club 8 Lp than he is for his own solo work. This Lp starts with the bittersweet and moody Bruised which is a very edgy and brilliant pop song. In fact, this LP at times is semi reminiscent of some of Lloyd Coles solo work, inasmuch as alot of that was moody and less "poppy" than his Commotions songs. There's a dark tinged "fuzz" about many of the songs here. I have never been to Sweden, but have driven the shores of maritime New Brunswick Canada which was strewn with large ocean beaten rocks, barren and grey, with a dark glasslike sea beyond. This is sort of the music to play when sitting upon one of those rocks while you contemplate existance. This is not in many respects an LP for casual or "light" listening, but it is done well and under the right circumstances it's quite near brilliant, being sublime in mood and very introspective. A bittersweet pleasure.
Label ~ Labrador, 10 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Loch Ness Mouse - "Key West" I am truly confounded by this band, as they are from Norway but they have that US twee/bacharach vibe as done by bands like Majestic down pat. Naturally it follows that is a sound I am just about as tired of as I ever will be. It was cute at first, especially at times when there wasn't much else, but things seem to be getting better and this sort of thing has been done to death in the past 5 years. The press sheet compares them to the Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren and Ladybug Transistor. (I wouldn't be that cruel, they are FAR better than Ladybug) In truth musically it isn't alway along that line, but the vocals tend to bring it back to that place. Also I really can't say this is even bad, as it isn't, but I just don't listen to this kind of music and were it not sent to me I would never even have bought it or reviewed it. That is something I need to come to terms with. I have a very hard time being objective when I HAVE to listen to a record I am really not in the mood to listen to. Yeah, you could say it's my job IF I was getting paid for this, which I am not. Well, I have been listening while I typed that diatribe and it really isn't that bad, and it's not as Majestic like as it first semed it would be, although it is 60's tinged certainly. I believe this also made many year end lists for last year, although that doesn't mean anything. It isn't completely 60's carnival music but at times it does come close. If you are into a lighter twee sound, and like that 60's organ laced fairground music then I can say this is better than what anyone else plumbing that depth has done. It is a style I will never like but even at that I found I could listen to this album tolerably, if prejudiciously.
Label ~ HHBTM, 12 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 4.8
Loomer - "World Tipped Blue" I'm assuming the person adorning the cover of this disc is this bands humoresquely named lead singer Lynda Mandolyn, who's dressed like she just missed her chance to be in the Sisters of Mercy. She's a witchy woman as it were. Naturally then, it comes as no real shocker that this band has an ambient, slow Goth sound to it. The songs themselves are a bit predictable, at times redundant and not very engrossing in any way. Also, and as is so often the case when bands are trying to be so "artsy", their precious songs tend to go on, and on and on.., seven of the twelve tracks on this LP clocking in at four plus minutes and longer. Even when a track like Queen Libertine starts with an interesting guitar line, it sadly never "grows" or goes anywhere, just repeating itself redundantly until Lyndas drab and grey vocals come and join it. That this song goes on for five minutes is not helping anything either. Again we have a band more image conscious than music enabled, and with track cuts like Nitrous or Viperine and the aforementioned Queen Libertine the "image" is as obvious as their redundancy in naming the damn things. Instead of searching for an image they should have been searching for more chords. There is one saving grace however, and that is that this album isn't mine. If it were, I'd be forced to trace a pentagram to protect myself from the vapid tedium which is this record.
Label ~ Evil Eye, 12 Tracks, 1998
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 5.6
Lovejoy - "Songs in The Key of" Again, I ride against the tides in my opinion of this disc, which has garnered praise in most corners. In this case, I do admit it appears to be more a matter of taste than it actually being good or bad. To me, this Lp suffers from that predicament of sounding an awful lot alike, and that isn't helped when the songs are long such as the opening track which goes on what is for me an agonizing five and a half minutes. That the next track Penelope London sounds a bit like it and goes four itself doesn't help matters. Styles finally change on the next track Thank Your Lucky Stars (an ironic name choice?) in which lead Lovejoyist Dick Preece sings in an overt english accent but musically the track still leaves me cold, as do his vocals. This is one of those odd little records on which I can find nothing to like and which does nothing for me. The songs tend to the slow and melancholic, which is fine if they're done well but to my ear the tracks here sadly are not, and for me this soon becomes a tiresome chore to listen to. Recommended for insomniacs only.
Label ~ Matinee, 10 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Lovejoy - "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" You may recall I ran against the tides in reviewing the first Lovejoy album, which was regarded with adulation in most quarters and panned in this one. I not only had the chutzpah to make that call, I am objective enough to call em all fairly. So here we find our Dick Preece on his latest outing and he is indeed plumbing new waters. The opener and title cut, while a bit of a longish odd near instrumental, certainly has a catchy charm and can't help but be liked. So does the next track, You Fell From Grace which comes in as a semi typical heartfelt english indie ballad, but is done as well as any of them. The next cut has me at odds, as the song Plastic Flowers is actually nice but again it is loaded with fake record crackle noise, and in this case it is really loaded with it. Who thinks this is cute or nostalgic? For the record, and for the hundredth time, my records do not make noise. Nor would yours if you weren't a record slob and took the time to learn how to treat them right. So this does somewhat ruin what would be a very likeable song for me. If they are going to do this they must all really start making edited versions for me and the rest of the audiophile community with this nonsense left out. The next cut Nothing Happens Here actually picks up the beat a bit, adds some nice reverb guitar bits in the chorus and again is quite jolly good. To cut to the chase, there is a lot of nice stuff here, from the Cinerama inspired cover of Biff Bang Pow's the Beat Hotel to the dance floor reprise Millionaire...Maybe. In fact this is so good I may just have to go out and buy it, as this is T-babys and Matinee is one of the few labels I don't get promos from. (I must have pissed somebody off, there's a shocker :) In any event, Dick, you bastard, you did it! You actually made a bloody fucking record! Congratulations my boy, it was music.
Label ~ Matinee, 9 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9
Lovejoy - "Everybody Hates Lovejoy" On this their third long player Lovejoy (Dick Preece) takes their sound and weaves it into possibly the most cohesive effort to date. The last album was very good, and in fairness a bit better, but as far as uniformity of sound and a presentation that seems to all belong together this one is clearly the most focused work. That is it's biggest plus and perhaps it's biggest flaw, as the initial seamlessness sort of leads way to a bit of sameness by the middle slightly reminding me of his first album, but only slightly so. (and that is due more to tempo than anything) That gets tempered by the end as the songs take on a more minimal and tender composition which is a welcome twist. The songs are melodic and on my rig sound very nice, but I did find this almost impossible to bear in the car as it came across as a wash, not even music. Sometimes albums like this just mix with road noise and sort of get erased audibly, and this I found did. While this is not stellar or ground breaking it's a nice enough little album. If you are looking for a little late night music that is slightly moody and makes the toes tap almost as an accident this will do the trick for you. It's the sort that insinuates rather than takes you by storm, but if you're in the mood to surrender to it's whiles it can reward.
Label ~ Matinee, 10 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Lovekevins - "Max Leon" I don't know a whole lot about this new swedish band, and I haven't visited their website yet, but I do know this their debut EP is one of the very best of it's kind I have heard in some time. The title track has an odd sort of Oriental vibe to it and is one of the most infectious and brain sticking songs I've heard all year. I must have been singing it for a month when I first heard it. Often EP's fail to live up to starters so brilliant but the rest of this is no slouch, from the poptastic Soviet.se to the bizarre lyrics of The Big Mono and the great closing ballad Blame The English this band is without doubt the most promising new talent on the radar this year. In fact it's so good I made Luke stock it in our Popsicle shop even though he isn't fond of selling EP's. Go get a copy of this little gem, you won't regret it.
Label ~ Songs I Wish I Had Written, 4 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Lovekevins - "The LK's Vs The Snow" I had been looking forward to this album for a long time, never quite knowing what to expect from it. Their debut EP was simply stunning but often bands falter or change course by the time the LP strikes. That isn't the case here. While Max Leon struck me as witty and perhaps a bit eccentric those traits did not stand out glaringly so, and I was a bit surprised at first to find that they do when trying to hear and absorb this LP on the first few spins. In fact I went back to the debut EP to see how similar or not it was and to my surprise I did find that any of those songs could be dropped into the mix of this album and fit right in. What makes this band special are the disjointed beats and melodies they use, and the earnest, pinning yet strangely gripping vocals of lead singer "Blak". Together these elements make for an album that is a joy ride of pop craftsmanship, but it is a very chic, very upscale affair despite the occasional profanity and /or sexual reference. While the lyrics often don't make sense either when looked at and read coldly, like New Order it all seems to make sense in the context of the song, as it weaves your brain into a pop psychosis. On top of all this it's recorded very well. What else needs be said? This is damn special and if you don't get a copy, more's the pity for you. It's available in our Popsicle shop now.
Label ~ Songs I Wish..., 10 Tracks, 2007
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 5.1
Loveletter - "Beethoven Chopin Kitchen Fraud" Frankly I'm at a bit of a loss as to how the Siesta label keeps finding these bossa nova lounge acts, but that seems to be a chasm with no bottom. The opener here, Forget That Girl is all kitschy quirky, and is unquestionably the best track on the LP. Actually, there is a fair bit of experimentation going on on this album, some of it resulting in mediocre tracks and some that wish they were. On some songs such as Apples and Oranges they immiedately sound like something else I should recognise but can't, and while it had the chance to be an interesting song, in the end it failed. Given that there is tons of this out there right now and most of it is at least better than this I can easily advise forgetting about this record but not this band. I hear a lot of unfullfilled promise on this outing and if they can solidify their style and try to be less "creative" in presentation and concentrate more on the tunes, well, who knows what the future may hold for them. But for now, run my children......run away.....
Label ~ Siesta, 14 Tracks, 2000
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.9
Lucksmiths - "Naturaliste" I have heard I think every Lucksmiths album (of which I think this is number 7 already if we don't count singles LP's and side projects) and the surprising thing is this is the first to actually make the site. I think part of the reason is there are TOO many of them, and that by and large they are all fairly alike. There will be 1 or 2 really brilliant tracks, with the occasional one which is a masterpiece (like Untidy Towns), then 3-4 which are quite good and the rest will be rather slow and of light accompaniment and while not bad, at 5 per record at 7 records that's 35 songs that I can't tell apart from one another. This is another such record. Track one Camera-Shy is upbeat and quintessentially them, and the next The Sandringham Line is so beautiful (and slow) it will lullaby you to sleep. I don't think I ever heard a Lucksmiths song I don't like, but I've heard a lot that make me feel indifferent. This leans to the slow side more than the upbeat one and while it has it's moments I again find I don't much care. Sad really, as they certainly are one of the best outfits around today. I think they ought to record less and only use the absolutely best stuff, while trying to alter their sound at least a little bit. If not, they ought to call their next LP in 4 months "Blood From A Stone" if you get my meaning. Still, this may be their best and most cohesive album so far, and if you have not heard them you certainly should get this as you will undoubtedly like it. I have to be critical, I'm a critic. You can just enjoy it.
Label ~ Matinee, 11 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Lucksmiths - "Warmer Corners" I have no doubt that if I ever ran into Tali White he'd kick my ass. (or at least try to) True, I have made his band the butt of many jokes, but all good natured, honestly. For example, when this came out every description for it carried the line "best Lucksmiths album ever!" I think every new Lucksmiths album has carried that disclaimer, all 43 of them.... That was tough to take when the first 35 all sounded almost exactly alike, (ok, ok, I'm fudging numbers, but it's all to stress the point) which was in large measure why I did not buy them. (T baby did though so I heard them and I honestly can't tell any of them apart) This time out however, and they blew it from the mountain tops, came the promise of a more grown up sound: "There will be brass! There will be strings! It's the best Lucksmiths album ever!" Oh shit, talked into another purchase..... Well, I got it, and I listened. There is brass, and it's a nice and very welcome addition. There is organ and piano helping to bind it together. There are even strings adding depth and emotion. And despite writing, what did I say, 52 albums (which is like what, 624 songs? (ok, the exaggerating is getting worse) to no small amazement they aren't tapped out lyrically, or even musically. In fact the only really bad thing I can say about this is the sleeve concept is really ugly. Otherwise, you know what? I think this is the best Lucksmiths album ever. No 10 yet Tali, but you're moving in the right direction. Without question the most cohesive and musical album this Aussie band has made to date. Adult, emotive and truly inspiring. My kudos guys.
Label ~ Upper Class, 10 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.2
Ludus - "the Damage" I remember this band, but I never got anything by them so when I saw the reissue in this best of format I decided what the hell. Lead singer Linder (Linda Mulvey) was more reknown to me as being involved in the pre Smith life of Morrissey, where she played the part of aspiring artist, girlfriend of Howard Devoto and friend and confidant to Moz. They spent much time wandering the streets (and cemetaries) together and in fact the Smiths song Cemetry Gates draws from this wandering of theirs. (it is also speculated the early Smiths songs Jeane and Wonderful Woman also originated from his time with her) Her art was always on the edge, and included things like menstrual jewelry (don't ask) and even a menstrual "egg timer" which actually recieved a Factory catalogue number (FAC 8) but alas, never appeared as a real commodity. Well, enough of history, it's the music we're on about. I honestly couldn't remember what this sounded like, although I had heard them in the past. This comp spans 1979-83 so it's not surprising that on some songs like She She she's trying hard both musically and vocally to sound like Siouxsie and the Banshees which were a large influence at the time. (and the song really does), however, the next song Let Me Go Where My Pictures Go is a light glam pop number that reminds me of the Associates. That's followed by Neu au Soleil which is sung in French and reminds me of Blondie. All of that is this LP in a nutshell. It's like a prism mirroring the spectra of the times around her. So how does this come across now? Well, to me at least having lived it, most of it seems very dated musically, where say the Pale Fountains does not as much. As far as styles, it is a mish mosh, but were you to say it's a sort of glam, post punk Banshee-esque neo-mod affair, you would not be far off. (you wouldn't be far on either) A number of the songs are somewhat experimental in nature, and that doesn't appeal to everyone. My favorite is probably the appropriately titled My Cherry is in Sherry, but The Escape Artist has some lovely guitar bits in it and is pretty nice also. This is one of those bands people like to use words like "vital" about. Hmmm, I'll have to settle for "a little charming". It provides an interesting look back, but in honesty it's not a direction I often find myself looking.
Label ~ LTM, 18 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.5
Lumeny - "Lumeny" I have to say, the majority of the bands contacting me to send me promos are certainly deserving, and this is no exception. It is also the first one from Russia. Not the first place one thinks of for indie pop perhaps but the world is changing and hopefully for the better. (we need to get the public to BUY the damn things though) In any case, I was certainly unsure what to expect from this thing. It is too sophisticated to be classified easily, but if I was to make a broad comparison I'd say this reminds me an awful lot of the Cocteau Twins. Ethereal, sweeping synth and guitar layers, especially on songs like Heart which really sounds like the Cocteaus. And that can only be a good thing, and it is. What's more, lead singer Alya sings in Russian and sounds a little like Liz Frazier as well especially as the vocals are very flowing and rhythmic but you can't understand a damn thing either one of them is saying. The magic is it doesn't detract from either performance. You can visit their site as well by clicking here. You might have some trouble if your Cyrillic is rusty, so just click the link box at top right called MY3blKA. The second track is Heart and is worth the download wait. (or perhaps track 5 "Main Path" which sounds like Clannad, no fooling) This is a very nice album over all and your only problem is getting it. You could write the band for now I suppose, and I can only wonder what my mailman thought when he put a package with Moscow stamped all over it in my mailbox. In the meantime I am trying to get them a deal so it gets released all over and all the pop kids can enjoy. Keep em crossed...
Label ~ unknown, 8 Tracks, 2003