Posts from 2009

Marit Larsen

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 by Julija

folk-pop // acoustic

Some of you might be familiar with Marit Larsen as a former member of Norwegian teenage duo M2M, known for their hit “Don’t Say You Love Me” (1999). Following the duo’s break up Marit has shifted from the sugary sweet pop to a subtler and more mature kind of songwriting. Her second solo effort, The Chase (2008), is all about the rich yet unpretentious arrangements and memorable melodies. Featured below, “Steal My Heart” is one of Marit’s slow paced numbers and a great example of her orchestral pop crafting. The song evolves around the gorgeous strings and overall delicate instrumentation that carries Marit’s soft vocals.

Sweet melody to melt your heart.
Marit Larsen – Steal My Heart

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Meaghan Smith

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 by Michelle

singer-songwriter // indie folk // holiday

After hearing Canadian songwriter Meaghan Smith’s sweet and carefree songs it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she grew up in a house of music, with her piano-teacher mother, bassist father and three talented sisters. Her affinity for the sounds of the “˜20s, “˜30s and “˜40s features heavily in her music as well. While the jazz-influenced indie folk of Meaghan Smith embraces instrumentation from older eras, the Canadian songwriter gives it her own contemporary twist (Meaghan herself dubs it “modern vintage”). Regardless of what you’d like to call it, her unique take on the holiday classic, “Silver Bells” and her original winter song, “It Snowed” is just what you need to get you in the holiday mood!

Traditional holiday songs go “modern vintage”.
Meaghan Smith – It Snowed
Meaghan Smith – Silver Bells
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Fredrika Stahl

Monday, December 21st, 2009 by Julija

jazz // pop // chanson

The repertoire of Swedish singer-songwriter Fredrika Stahl consists of elegant jazz compositions and dreamy vocal textures. “Monumental Mismatch”, the opening track of Tributaries (2008), possesses this certain element of playfulness and simplicity that works so well with Fredrika’s flirtatious jazz approach. Accompanied by accordion and delicate piano arrangements, lyrical “Pourquoi Pas Moi” is a true homage to French chanson, while her yearning vocals bring to mind the critically acclaimed Lisa Ekdahl.

Gentle jazz for a wintry afternoon.
Fredrika Stahl – Monumental Mismatch
Fredrika Stahl – Pourquoi Pas Moi
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Saturday, December 12th, 2009 by Paul Irish

strings // electro // soul

It seems easy to assume that two prized string players, recognized as some of the finest young French musicians would be influenced by the Parisian electro scene, like Ed Banger and Institubes. They would, naturally, then set out to create electro infused with the graceful cello and viola lines. At first listen, this is what you might hear. But SomethingALaMode (or SALM) has pushed that further; the result is less novelty, more solid songwriting. A few samples from their varied and impressive debut: “Little Bit of Feel Good” delivers some mighty soul vocals; “GString” is a bit more familiar electro-fare, but with a very distinctive feel.

Music mastery; on the strings and the synths.
SomethingALaMode – Little Bit of Feel Good (feat. Adam Joseph)
SomethingALaMode – GString
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Thursday, December 10th, 2009 by Julija

swedish pop // singer-songwriter

Laleh’s album, Me and Simon (2009), shines with pure pop energy and good fun. There are no experimental edges for avant pop lovers, yet there are enough memorable melodies and clever hooks to keep your attention. Iranian-Swedish artist Laleh crafts vibrant pop songs, sweet lullabies and ballads, sung mostly in English with the occasional French and Persian (not to be confused with Arabic) ear candy. Laleh’s stand-out track and my personal favourite is “Simon Says”. With its lovely arrangements, subtle multi-layered vocals and playful lyrics, this one you will carry and hum for the rest of the day.

Strong melody and a somewhat naive quirkiness.
Laleh – Simon Says

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Caravan Palace

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 by Paul Irish

electro swing // gypsy django party

If you can judge a group by its influences, try these out: Django Reinhardt, Vitalic, Cab Calloway, Justice, Lionel Hampton, Daft Punk, Billie Holiday. The Paris-based group has been touring since they broke out at the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival in 2007. They deliver an old gypsy swing, but through a very accessible and fresh dance music production. I hadn’t heard of them until they stole my ears at the Dour Festival in Belgium this summer.

Django Reinhardt is raving inside of a carnival tent.
Caravan Palace – Jolie Coquine
Caravan Palace – Star Scat
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Robin McKelle

Sunday, November 1st, 2009 by Julija

vocal jazz // swing jazz

As the days become shorter and the nights get colder, I find myself immersed in smooth tasty retro swing and vocal jazz. Robin McKelle’s Modern Antique (2008) provides with that tasty kind of vibe that sounds so good while sipping warm apple cider. Indeed, Robin’s repertoire is “antique” — mostly songs from the 40’s to early 60’s, yet her approach is fresh. Her retro-big-band-swing interpretation of Steve Miller’s pop hit “Abracadabra” is an absolute gem. It’s so charming, inventive and sweetly flirtatious you wouldn’t recognize the original in it. Another favourite, “Go To Hell” (Nina Simone’s tune) features refined and stylish arrangements with Robin’s emotive and powerful phrasing.

Tasteful finger-snapping jazz.
Robin McKelle – Abracadabra
Robin McKelle – Go To Hell
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The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

Saturday, October 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Orchestral // Jazz // Ambient

Overtures creep toward you bearing ominous insight. A ravenous beast of symphonic scale lurks behind every measure; its teeth a menacing discord that devour your surroundings presence. Henryk Górecki could be leading The Cinematic Orchestra through a dirge, yet the scourge of blaring horns and thunderous storms evoke nameless regions. This elegant, brooding ardor bleeds from The Netherlands as The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble; a project originating with Jason Köhnen and Gideon Kiers to recreate scores for the classic films Nosferatu and Metropolis. Angelic offerings scarcely appear to cradle your stay, but whirlwind strings and industrial plight will have their say. Aching with beauty and purpose, Here Be Dragons is a story I do not want to unhold.

Arrangements for Hallows’ eve.
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Caravan!
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Embers
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Boom Pam

Friday, October 23rd, 2009 by Julija

surf // indie eclectic

During my year spent in Tel Aviv I’ve learnt about many indie artists and been to a countless number of local gigs. Many of these discoveries I have already shared with you, avid readers, yet there is one act both Paul and I have been wanting to introduce to a wider audience of music lovers. Tel Aviv-based Boom Pam sounds unmistakably Mediterranean. There are Greek influences (think energetic Greek wedding music), Oriental motifs (traditional Middle Eastern melodies) and Balkan rhythms (passionate and vibrant) in their music. You can easily say as well it’s a Tel Avivian vibe, multicultural, stylish and laid back at the same time. “Wedding song” an up-tempo track from their almost entirely instrumental self-titled record features tuba and surf guitars and gives you a good idea of what Boom Pam sounds like. Boom Pam’s interpretation of Dick Dale’s “The Wedge”, Puerto Rican Nights (2008), is a mixture of Mediterranean heat and an American western movie.

Mediterranean eclecticism played with tremendous energy.
Boom Pam – Wedding Song
Boom Pam – The Wedge
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Ólafur Arnalds

Monday, October 19th, 2009 by Kyle


Less we spoke, more we listened. “The Light” is directed by Esteban Diácono for Ólafur Arnalds‘s Found Songs. Seven pieces recorded during seven days at his apartment in Reykjavík with piano, strings, twitter and flickr.

Gentle fireworks.
Ólafur Arnalds – Ljósið
Ólafur Arnalds – Raein
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