On his latest album, I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream., Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man On Earth is, in part, following in the grand tradition of “life on the road” albums. The road is fucking hard. The road is fucking TOUGH man…but does the world in 2019 need any more sad songs? Special guest Wes Covey joins us to discuss sad songs and much more on an all-new Discologist.
Hailing from the savage frozen North – otherwise known as Arvika Sweden – Enforcer are bringing the thundering sounds from the darkness of yore – otherwise known as mid to late 80’s metal – back on their new LP Zenith. Prepare your soul for the end of the universe and join us in these final hours as we journey through this timeless scream from the darkness. Don’t forget to tip your dark overlord before you exit this plane of existence. Hail Satan!
Ellie Goulding with a Swedish-pop edge
Why You Should Care:
There is no doubt that Swedish pop export Tove Lo loves to push buttons. With a directness unusual in the world of pop music, her new album BLUE LIPS (lady wood phase II) leaves no topic off the table. She thrives on pushing boundaries and BLUE LIPS opens a newly personal side of Tove Lo as she writes about constantly chasing a rush—be it from drugs, sex, or pushing boundaries.
Regardless of the topic, Tove Lo brings her signature strong electropop edge to the entire album. Her dark voice carries her throughout BLUE LIPS to express emotions that are well balanced with synth drum and bass lines. Split into two halves, LIGHT BEAMS and PITCH BLACK, the album is billed as a follow-up to her sophomore hit album Lady Wood.
In “shedontknowbutsheknows,” Tove Lo sings about a woman whose partner is doing things behind her back. The track is pure dance pop with an undercurrent of pain and darkness. The track feels self-reflective as Tove Lo encapsulates the feeling of denying something to yourself you know is likely true. While you will be bopping along to the rhythmic chorus, the track offers the undeniable sense of knowing that something is wrong, but struggling to convince yourself that it is not. Tove Lo seems poised to make you want to dance, while pushing you to challenge yourself and get beyond your comfort zone.
Sometimes, it’s hard to separate Little Dragon - the band - from Little Dragon - the feature on another artist’s track. For years, vocalist Yukimi Nagano has made the rounds with musical tastemakers like DJ Shadow, Gorillaz, and Big Boi to give their songs that extra flourish and indie cred. Though there are lots of sounds indebted to Nagano's standout voice, the Swedish band has garnered a lot of well-deserved recognition of their own. From their 2007 self-titled debut to their latest outing, the 80s-influenced Season High, they have toured the world and pushed the synth-R&B genre forward time and again. At their two-night stint at 9:30 Club, they once again proved their prowess in melding genres into a sound that's uniquely their own. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have a charismatic singer like Nagano at the helm.
A song sauntering along in the summer sun
Why you should care:
Tove Styrke’s album Kiddo was widely regarded as one of the better pop albums of 2015. Full of radio-ready pop hooks that still allowed her to carve her own niche in the music landscape, songs like “Borderline” and “Ego” found sizeable audiences around the world, especially in her native Sweden.
It’s been nearly eight years since José González has put out a solo album, during which time he has been busy with his band Junip, but that changed in February with the release of Vestiges & Claws, his third full-length release under his own name. His solo recordings distinguish themselves from the band by being quieter, more acoustic, and more directly focused on González as a singer-songwriter. So it was no surprise when, on Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club, his show was a sparser affair than when Junip last played at the venue in 2013.
At the end of 2013, ChunkyGlasses sat down with Holograms at DC9 in Washington, DC on the first night of their US tour. In addition to talking about the new record, Forever, Holograms spoke about movies, life in Sweden and their stance on Michael Bay.
Junip’s debut album, 2010’s Fields, was perfectly illustrative of what singer/songwriter Jose Gonzalez does so well, a fusion of perfectly plucked classical guitar that weaves in and out of synthesizers and driving drum beats. The sound is indicative of the cloth it’s cut from; Gonzalez is an Argentinian who was raised primarily in Sweden, and (normally) he’s able to perform a balancing act between Latin acoustic music and the pop sensibilities of fellow Swedes First Aid Kit and Lykke Li. Fields never wavered in its ability to keep the listener engaged, alternating from near cacophony to beautifully polished simplicity and, because of nearly constant, perfectly produced beats, never once allowed the listener to turn away. Even the two disc special edition of the record, which added the 11 songs from the Rope and Summit and Black Refuge EPs, never wavered, ending with an angry solo version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Ghost of Tom Joad.” As we noted in our review of Fields, the album “creates an energy that seems to almost swirl out of the speakers, covering you with a blanket of sound.”
Junip’s self-titled follow up, unfortunately, doesn’t come close to creating that same energy. More often than not, this feels like an album of tracks that weren’t interesting enough to make it on Fields, and more often than that, it’s all too easy to tune out the music and start thinking about what you’re having for dinner, or what you’ve got going on this weekend. Quite the opposite of engaging, this is music that is best used for falling asleep on a plane.
Sounds Like: Aggressive droning mixed with Portishead influence.
Why You Should Care: Long awaited follow-up albums are usually pretty big news (See MBV).
The Knife are finally back with a new album called Shaking The Habitual and have teased the electronic world with the first single: “Full of Fire”. The track is everything you’d expect from the Knife: schizo synthesizers, vocoder-laced vocals underlining Karin Andersson’s moans, and a steady, almost marching band-esque drum beat that sums up this bad acid trip of song, in a good way.
The video pairing with the new single fits the mood of the track: stressful, disruptive, and sporadic. The video, clocking in at almost ten minutes, focuses on the display of women in several roles including reverse gender roles.
Let it be known that, with this track, The Knife seem in no way interested in re-creating the disarming hooks they perfected on 2006’s Silent Shout. Instead, they seem to be taking the path the Crystal Castles took on their album II: screechy vocals matched with blood-pumping, glitchy beats.
SOUNDS LIKE: Lord Huron, John Vanderslice, and, obviously, José Gonzalez
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The band’s 2010 release, Fields, was an acoustic/chillwave masterpiece
Odds are good you’ve heard José Gonzalez’s fantastic tenor and perfectly plucked nylon strings at some point, whether you know it or not. Whether covering The Knife in a commercial for Sony, contributing that same acoustic skill to British Duo Zero 7, or even while you were crossing the border into Mexico in Red Dead Redemption, Gonzalez’s music seems to pop up everywhere, and that’s a good thing. The Swedish-Argentine Gonzalez has reassembled the trio Junip, which he recently described as “somewhere between a German jazz band and an African pop band,” for a self-titled follow-up to the spectacular Fields. The band has released the first single from the record, “Line of Fire,” in which Gonzalez’s quiet guitar is eventually overpowered by an orchestral wall of sound. It portends great things for the full album, which will be released this spring.
Rocktober’s been very good to us, so help us usher it out in style, dignity and grace with a special performance by the National Sympho -- Whaaaaaa-huh-huh? TO HELL WITH THAT - we’re going meteoric from now til Halloween, starting tonight with Miike Snow at the 9:30 Club. You’ll get a bunch of guys sharing one name, an entrancing idea for a last-minute costume - just add roadkill antlers to that rabbit suit your aunt got you last Christmas - and enough Scandi-pop and synthesizers to fill the couch section of IKEA, all in one sweatastithon of a night.
Miike Snow uses everything from barking dogs to marching bands to give their tracks a fullness uniquely their own, and they are rolling in tonight for not one, but two shows. Will they be bringing the Grambling State Marching Band and a pack of wild dingoes? These Swedes are nuts, so it’s entirely possible -- but even if they can’t swing it due to space limitations and health code regulations for the cupcake kitchen, you can guaran-damn-tee that MS will have enough sound packed into their keyboards to make you think you’re seeing a marching band. And dingoes.
We’ve already been to, like, 50 shows in 24 days, so step it up with us as we grind out the rest of the month, and let’s see you shaking your sprocket tonight - Tickets for the early show with Nikki & the Dove are sold out (but ever hear of Craigslist?) - luckily for you there are still a few tickets available for the 10:30 show HERE.
They say that some things only get better with time, and for the sake of argument let’s just assume that it’s true. The thing about time though is that…it’s takes TIME. So how does one explain the rapid ascent, now complete domination of First Aid Kit? Not four years ago, the sisterly duo of Johanna and Klara Söderberg were sending adorable love letters to America’s Fleet foxes via YouTube. Judging by their gleefully “over the top” performance this past Tuesday it’s hard to believe that these days they couldn’t command a crowd 100 times that of the sold out Sixth and I Synagogue.
That they are simply better now is no surprise. Over the course of two albums, and EP and a few years of touring, the two have honed their craft to perfection. Earlier this year they delivered a stellar show here in DC at the Black Cat, and if there was anything to nitpick, anything at all, it seemed that while they had the singing down in spades, the performance side of things slightly - but only slightly - short.
Jump forward to this week and a performance replete with sing-a-longs, head banging and at times, stadium worthy lighting effects that left everyone in the room with a grin on their face that said “Where the hell did these kids even come from?” Through older songs like “In The Morning,” “Hard Believer” and a foot stomping take on The Big Black And The Blue’s “Sailor Song,” the sisters, along with drummer Mattias Bergqvist, gave the audience a sense of just how the group got to where they are today, but it was the material off of their latest release, The Lion’s Roar that sent the evening soaring.
Going into Sub Pop’s diminutive Mega Mart in downtown Seattle in the late-Nineties you would see racks full of rapidly aging grunge CDs, and the stench of a media-created “scene” long since dead. There were only a few records, such as Codeine, with music beyond Sub Pop’s core-competency. Rock n’ roll played at maximum volume, if not a maximum speed.
Things changed dramatically after one of its co-founders retired. Sub Pop started signing artists like Iron and Wine, the Postal Service, and, as of late, Beach House and Washed Out. This reinvention has (for the most part) been a strong economic and artistic achievement.
But where does Sweden’s Niki & the Dove, one of Sub Pop newest acts, fit into the story? Niki & the Dove’s Instinct deals in a retro mish-mash of worn out sounds, which are slightly warmed up by Malin’s cutesy and earnest vocals. Just don’t pay attention to closely to the lyrics. Apparently, having sex with someone in a back seat of a car is tantamount to marriage in “Last Night,” and the singer not only falls in love with someone on the first sign, but wants to hold him or her close in “Love to the Test.” That’s adorable! Or maybe just juvenile.
There are occasions when a borderline assaholic and cock-sure front man is so ably backed by the rest of the band and the crowd at large that all the planets align and you know you’re going to witness a bare-knuckled brawl of a show. We here in the Nation's capital were treated to just such an alignment at the 9:30 Club last Tuesday as Sweden's hardest working band, The Hives, blew up all over the stage in a sea of trademark black and white for the opening night of the American leg of their Lex Hives tour.
It takes a confident man to pull off a top hat, white tie and tails, but five confident men are obviously a better show. The best dressed garage band to ever appear on a D.C. stage broke the seal on the night in front of a maniacally grinning backdrop, chanting “COME ON, COME ON, COME ON,” etc. The first track on the new album is nothing but these two words relentlessly screamed over and over again for 70 seconds, and while it’s a bit much in your cramped apartment, it’s brilliant as a show opener. That bled straight into “Try it Again,” from the ever-popular Black & White album, and what followed was a night-long onslaught of LOUDNESS, RAWK and, more to the point, FUN.
Sounds Like: The Connells, Echo And The Bunnymen, The Smiths, All of the John Hughes soundtracks played at once, Sweden
Why you should care: This whole Swedish invasion is REAL people. Be smart, know your enemy, and you just might make it through this
So Sweden's invasion of our bandwidth continues for the second day in a row, and this time around we get to see a slightly less sunny side of the country then we did with yesterdays journey into HAPPIEST FOLK MUSIC EVAR land. Like some lost track from the ULTIMATE John Hughes film (16-MILLION Candles! Weirdest Science! The Breakfast Club part 2: MORE BACON JOHNNY!), "Try, Catch" provides a satisfying scratch your itch for an 80's fix, yet manages to avoided sounding dated or derivative, which is no small feat.